Dishes from Sunday dinner were still in the sink. I’d gotten my teenager out the door with a healthy breakfast he gagged down and a homemade lunch packed with love he’d probably trade or chuck. I sorted laundry and put in a load I would forget about.
I changed out of my pajamas and into exercise clothes as usual, then sat down at the computer to work and put off my workout for a few hours, as usual. I did manage to make a significant dent in the piles of paperwork on my desk, as well as pin some great recipes I’ll probably never make and find some fabulous things on kohls.com to use my 30% coupon.
Then I got the fake friendly auto-generated reminder text, “Hi Kari, Dr. Smiles is looking forward to seeing you at 1:30 today for your dental appointment. Kindly confirm.”
I’d forgotten about that.
I’d already changed this appointment twice for lame reasons and I was determined to actually go this time, but with the appointment in just an hour I would have to make some compromises. I could skip my workout and go to the dentist showered, well-groomed and on time. Or, I could do a shorter workout, take a quick shower and be clean but a’naturelle-looking (i.e. scary) and just a few minutes late. Or, I could do my full workout because I felt guilty about how I ate over the weekend, throw a hoodie over my sweaty self and arrive late and apologetic for my tardiness, appearance and smell.
Option three it was.
After all, if I’d have shown up on time and all put together my dental buddies wouldn’t have recognized me and I’d forfeit the friends and family discount. They poked, scraped and buffed my pearlies while I reclined and watched some awkward interview with astronauts on the International Space Station on the TV in the ceiling. Apparently every day is a bad hair day at zero gravity. I was given a clean bill of dental health and a reminder card for the next appointment in six months I’ll either miss or be late for and I headed out to run errands before heading home.
It’s unfortunate more people would be subjected to my hygiene neglect, but when you come into town from the boonies you have to get everything done in one trip. One of my errands was tragically close to Kohl’s which provoked me to go in person to buy the things I’d found online to use my coupon. It can be a good thing to shop when you look terrible because no matter how cute the outfits are, when you see yourself in them up close and personal in the dressing room mirror the inclination to buy is greatly diminished.
I’m relaying all this backstory to qualify why it was after four in the afternoon when I was finally getting into the shower, or so I thought.
Just as I was about to disrobe and finally un-stench myself in preparation to attend a parents meeting for my son’s soccer team, my husband/home business partner informed me an important associate just called to say he was coming by to see the art and studio and he was bringing a friend. They’d arrive in about ten minutes.
I should’ve done those dishes. I should’ve finished the laundry. I should’ve exercised before I sat down at the computer. I should’ve showered and applied make-up. I should’ve cut up my Kohl’s card a looooong time ago. But it was too late for should’ves.
I pulled cute clean clothes over my sticky body, braided my greasy hair and slapped on a ball cap hoping it would pass for sporty hip. I put on earrings to dress up the look, slathered on some make-up and generously spritzed Bath & Body Works scents. Luckily my teeth had been professionally cleaned that day.
I mad-dashed through the house chucking clutter in rooms I hoped they wouldn’t want to go in and closed the doors. On Saturday I had cleaned the main areas of the house thoroughly because we had company for dinner and they still looked good, but there was nothing I could do about the dirty dishes at this point.
In an unusual act of ambition during Saturday cleaning, I had removed all the knickknacks on the decorative shelves in my kitchen to dust and reconfigure for a change of scenery. I didn’t get it done before our company came, but they’re good friends and once we clarified we weren’t moving they didn’t care about the bare shelves and awkward pile of decor items on the kitchen floor. But the pending visitors had never been to our house before so this configuration would look odd. Just as I was about to gather it up in heap to shove behind a closed door, there was a knock at the front door.
The associate we knew arrived first. We welcomed him and his sweet wife in trying to stifle our anaerobic breathing. Just as we finished exchanging pleasantries in the entryway, there was another knock at the door. “That must be our friend,” they said.
We opened the door to find their friend, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Oops! I mean, NOT crap.
You shouldn’t say or think or write a word like “crap” when an apostle, prophet, seer and revelator is about to step into your house, even if he’s going to have to maneuver around a pile of dusty doodads on the kitchen floor.
Apparently Elder Stevenson was in town for the day and is a fan of western art, so when his friend mentioned he happened to know a local artist he wanted to stop in to meet him and see his work and studio.
As Jason showed them around the house to view the art, I offered apologies for the dishes in the sink, the random stack on the kitchen floor, the un-vacuumed carpet in the master bedroom, and the piles of laundry in the backroom on the way to the studio. I worried they could even sense the word “crap” had been uttered a few times in the house earlier. They graciously said they didn’t even notice and I should stop apologizing. I did stop apologizing and started relaxing and relishing in the privilege that was taking place in my home.
Elder Stevenson was friendly, polite and down-to-earth. He was wearing loafers and a parka. He was awesome. He loved the art and we loved him.
They stayed only about twenty minutes and we had a lovely visit. He gave us compliments, encouragement, inspired counsel and hugs before he waved good-bye and stepped carefully out onto our treacherously icy un-shoveled porch (blasted March squall!).
You might be wondering why this post doesn’t boast a candid selfie with an apostle as proof. Believe me, I wanted to – initially. But as we visited and enjoyed his spirit it just seemed like that would cheapen the occasion. Instead we just basked in his presence and tried to sear the memory into our hearts and minds.
After they left, Jason and I just stared at each other in wonder for a minute. An apostle had been in our home. Across time, space and populations, how many people in the history of the world get that honor?
I was late for the parents soccer meeting, of course, but I had a good excuse for my chronic tardiness this time. I’d been entertaining an apostle. Even my teenage son couldn’t argue with that when I told him just as he was about to scold me for always being the late mom for everything. I wish I had an excuse like that all the time to explain away my annoying idiosyncrasies, but I don’t. Oddly enough, this extraordinary experience made me feel less frustrated with myself about them.
We’ve all been asked in church to think about what it would be like if the Savior stopped by unannounced to visit your home. I kinda know how that feels now and you know what? I was okay.
My house was less than pristine. My appearance was suspect. My flaws were apparent, but I did not feel unloved or unworthy in the presence of a prophet. Though I’m far from perfect, I am trying to do what’s good and right.
I made my son a healthy breakfast and lunch (even if he doesn’t appreciate it). I sorted laundry and started a load. I did important paperwork for our business and household. I have some deep cleaning projects underway. I started the day with prayer and scripture study. I exercised and went to the dentist to be healthy. I sent a package to my daughter at college and visited my married daughter at work while running errands. I attended a meeting to support my son, and made a strenuous attempt to pull off a good impression of my house, self and business for an associate for my husband.
And it was enough.
Elder Stevenson felt welcome and comfortable in my home and I felt comfortable having him there – hidden clutter, ball cap and all.
Of course, I know the Savior is never a last-minute unexpected guest in my house, but a constant presence in my home and life and is well aware of what lurks behind closed doors and under hats. And he loves me anyway because if didn’t he would never have allowed His apostle to show up at my door unannounced on a typical Monday.
He trusted me with a precious and sacred experience, and that means a lot to me.