I toured Graceland once as a teenager. We were passing through Memphis on a long road trip and my fourteen year old self was a huge Elvis fan. Odd for my generation, but nonetheless, his posters covered my pink walls.
I remember Graceland being mostly like a museum. All of the rooms roped off, forbidding your entrance. You could look, but not enter.
Kind of how some people treat certain rooms in their home. Those rooms rarely visited, except for on special holidays and for certain guests. I heard a guy say one time that his mother used to vacuum the white carpet in their “off limits room” with diamond shaped patterns so she would know if her children had entered that room.
It sounded pretty exhausting to me.
But speaking of white carpet, a friend of mine gave me a great piece of advice one time. I allowed her into those roped off places of my heart. I was an excellent wall builder at the time. She saw the good and the ugly. She saw the fear. I knew her advice was in love and that I needed to listen. She said this:
“Sometimes you have to allow your white carpet to get messed up.”
She wasn’t referring to literal white carpet, but my concern about the perception other people had of me.
She was talking about being comfortable in my own skin. Authenticity and vulnerability. A raw honesty that takes guts.
For far too long, I allowed my worth and my perception of myself to be determined by the opinion of others.
It held me captive in a way I didn’t realize at the time.
Somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that if I masked my struggles, if I stayed silent instead of sharing my unpopular opinion, if I just did what was expected of me and never made anyone upset with me, then I would be enough.
But the problem was just a symptom of a much deeper issue at my core.
Beneath the fear was a faulty belief that God’s view of me was also very conditional.
I subconsciously believed that I had to earn His approval, and I had to keep Him from being angry or disapproving. Then I would be enough. I would be accepted and worthy of love and good things.
My own imperfections led to frequent “mess ups,” each one bringing me back to that low place of never feeling like my best was good enough. Feeling like my mess was too much for anyone, even God.
It was as exhausting as it sounds, like the thought of those diamond shaped patterns in the carpet, and I would honestly rather throw that vacuum than try to keep up.
I don’t know when exactly the lightbulb moment occurred. Truth takes time to transfer from the head to the heart, especially when a lie has been believed for so long.
But this I have learned and am learning: the One who created me smiles over me. Regardless of my performance. Regardless of my struggles that feel like too much. Kind of the way I am madly in love with my children, at their best and at their worst. I am learning to lean back into the "no matter whatness" of a passionate God.
I am also learning that once I have accepted me, at my best and my worst, then it no longer matters whether or not others do. It's like growing into your own skin, and being comfortable with your story.
That's when it becomes okay to allow a little mud on my white carpet.
photo credit: and weeeird
quote: Boyle, G (2010). Tattoos on the heart: The power of boundless compassion. New York, NY: Free Press.