“Oh! Do you live in the house with the white picket fence?” she asked, after I explained where I live in the neighborhood. “I LOVE that house!” she exclaimed, with new admiration in her eyes.

I smiled and said, “You mean the white picket fence that is all cracked, and missing a few picket tops? Yup, that’s where I live.”

I remember loving that fence, when we first looked at our house. To me, it was the symbol of idyllic living to have a house framed with flower beds and a white picket fence. What could go wrong in a house like that? The previous owners must have had a perfect life.

But when we moved in, I noticed that our fence had a few broken picket tops held in place by some fishing line. And inside the house, I noticed some stains on the carpet which I hadn’t seen. And the pool, which had seemed so inviting, had a broken heater–which made it far less inviting.

As the new owners, it didn’t take us long to add our own flaws to the property. We’ve added stains to the carpet, dings in the walls, and nicks in the flooring. And there’s always something wrong with the pool.

The fence was no exception. In no time, we popped off several picket tops with various basketballs and footballs being thrown about. Then, one dark, winter morning, Cole yelled, “Bus!” and proceeded to run–superman-style–through the picket fence. (See how my husband glued it together?)

He made the bus, though.

Our cracked, broken fence is no longer the picture of idyllic living in my mind. I’ve been nagging Ken for about two years to fix it, so if anything the fence only makes me annoyed. This is why I felt compelled to manage my new friend’s admiration.

Yes, we have a white picket fence. But it’s not perfect; nor are we.

My friend was only doing what I first did. What we all do. We have such a tendency to look at somebody else’s life and wonder: What could go wrong in a house like that? Or with a salary like that? Or married to a man like that? Or being part of a family like that? Or with talents like that? Yet, if we looked a little closer, we’d probably find plenty wrong.

I’m not suggesting we hand out “complaint cards” to the people who seem to have perfect lives; I’m just saying that a perfect life doesn’t exist. There are always flaws and trials and heartaches behind those white picket fences–guaranteed!

So rather than compare, I suggest we show compassion. Somebody’s always going through something. And rather than covet, I suggest we count our blessings. God has given us so much! And if your white picket fence is broken or cracked, don’t fret. God often uses our external flaws–not our perfection–to put people at ease, and draw them in closer.

Just last weekend (after I took these pictures), Ken fixed our fencing–which is wonderful! Only now I was worried that a local reader of this post might drive by and think, “Nuh uh… her picket fence is perfect!”

But not to worry. The new one is slightly crooked. It’s all good.

So, come on in and say hello! But let me warn you: we aren’t perfect–which hopefully will make you feel right at home.

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