At school drop-off, I sent him off with my usual have-a-good-day-I-love-you speech. It wasn’t until he walked away that I noticed his sweatshirt hood was full of sawdust.

And look, I might seem like a bad mom for just letting him go, but you don’t pause in the school drop-off line so I just shook my head and spent the day haunted by images of kids pointing and laughing while he cowered in a corner.

I later discovered that he already knew about the sawdust and just didn’t care. His brother sided with him and confirmed that “no one cares about stuff like that, Mom.”

And that was met with a mixture of annoyance and pride — because at least they were getting along for once.

I don’t remember that at all about school; I quite recall the opposite. The day I went to school with a layer of tiny hairs on my black shirt is the day I learned my lesson on picking up the guinea pigs before school.

You know, there’s part of me that rejoices that my boys don’t care about what people think. They care very deeply about people, but they don’t really worry about their opinions.

I could certainly learn from them, because they get pulled into my people pleasing by association — meaning people associate them as my children.

I don’t want people to label them as “those sloppy Duncan boys.” Although I’ve already given them that name, so I guess it’s more like I don’t want people to find out about it.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure anyone who walked into the house on a random Tuesday might just label the whole family that way and they wouldn’t be wrong.

Although I really can’t think of a teenage boy anywhere who can’t be called sloppy sometimes, or a family whose house doesn’t get out of control during the crazy days of life.

Yet when a friend stops by, I either apologize all over myself or just throw my hands up and tell them thieves ransacked the house.

(And that’s true because the same hoodlums who trash the place are always taking my stuff.)

This is all an inner struggle of mine, which I know is petty, so I tend to keep most of it to myself. I don’t want to expose my kids to the same insecurities I deal with, because it’s a weird battle that goes far beyond cleaning.

Like today, I sat at a stop sign with a line of cars behind me. My blood pressure rose while I waited for my chance to go, convinced that drivers everywhere were cursing my name because of the two minute wait on West Ely Road.

When I finally pulled into the road there was immediate relief. The pressure to please everyone around me was off.

As someone who not only believes in Jesus but has seen the transformative power of God’s word, I don’t know why this is a problem for me. He doesn’t ask me to please everyone or freak out if someone thinks less of me.

He asks me to love people — not please them. And although it might seem the same, loving people and pleasing people are two different things.

Loving people is to reach out and say, “I’m here.” And then in all my awkward glory to show up and mean it.

Loving people is to open my house to people. Even if it’s a Tuesday evening and the dinner dishes are crusting up and the laundry is slung all over the living room.

Loving people is to meet them where they are and sit right down in their muck – even if it’s a pile of sawdust which a few friends have done with us lately.

Loving people is to point them to Jesus. No matter how inadequate you feel.

God never told anyone to scrub furiously before letting in someone who needs them; He only asks that we let Him clean up our hearts as we reflect His love.

It shouldn’t be about caring what people think of me; it should be caring about what people think about Jesus.

Because it’s not about me.

It’s also not about that sawdust in my kid’s hood (although if someone knows how to get sawdust out of wool that’d be nice to know).

It’s about Jesus — it’s always been about Jesus.

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