I’m a textbook perfectionist. I can plan my day down to the minute if I have to. I know how much the bill will be before it hits the table, if I’m just by myself or with 15 people at a French restaurant. I like order. I like a routine. And I like the appearance of spontaneity.
But so often, God trips me up. He throws a wrench in my careful plans, disarms me, and forces me to be more authentic than ever before.
When I was dating C., I wasn’t always dressed up, but I always made sure I looked good. His favorite outfit on me was leggings and a black t-shirt. I realized why a few months later, when I wore that outfit out. One of my guy friends told me that my butt was so big it entered the room 5 minutes before I did.
It’s not true. (I wish it were).
Anyway. One day, I was really sick. At this point, we weren’t dating, but after a brief phone call in which I sounded gross, he decided to surprise me by bringing me orange juice and tissues and everything else a girl with a cold would need. (Sadly, he did not intuit my need for Vogue).
The problem with the otherwise lovely surprise is that I decided to wear my MC Hammer pants to bed. Don’t act like you don’t have a pair of really ugly MC Hammer shaped pj pants. The pants were a nondescript grey with tiny flowers. It was an unfortunate and unflattering fit. Of course my head was tied up like Harriet Tubman, and I had a hoodie on to complete the very unsexy picture.
To make matters worse, I was laid out on the couch in the kitchen, frantically writing a section of my dissertation. Whenever I’m in writing mode, I look TERRIBLE and everything around me is a mess. I’m usually a fastidious housekeeper, but I ignore and work around the mess when inspiration hits.
C. came up the back stairs, which all of my close friends do. He knocked on the door and scared the daylights out of me. There was nowhere to hide. Part of my screen is ripped (I’ve been meaning to get that fixed!) and he could see everything: my messy kitchen, my books and laptop and used tissues scattered all over the couch, and finally, me…
looking a hot mess.
I went into attack mode, as he had a big smile on his face. How could I be gracious to a man who was seeing me at my worst?
Then I realized that he was smiling–and not because he was mocking me. He told me he felt privileged that he is one of the few people on this earth who have seen me look a mess. It’s not like he thought I was gorgeous through the mess–I’m pretty sure he thought I looked gross, or at best, germ-y. But he liked that he got to see me–Ms. Perfect–as a mess.
Letting someone see your mess is an act of intimacy. It’s going beyond real. Even though C. had seen me without makeup, or without heels, he had never seen me entirely vulnerable. My intelligence and the modicum of beauty I may have always act as an armor. But that mess let him in + forced me to be real.
And it taught me that, every once in a while, I should let a guy take care of me. And maybe see a little bit of my mess.
Just a little bit.