We were getting ready to have company and my house did not look how I wanted it to. I don’t set a high standard for myself….. just you know, perfection. 🙂
I folded the laundry, ran the vacuum, got the bathroom wiped down, and just when I thought I was done, there was a sticky spot I noticed on the floor! The floors! Oh my! Look at them! I suddenly could not remember when the last time I ran the steam cleaner over them and just envisioned our guests noticing and silently judging. My imagination, ya, it runs crazy every now and then!
The thing is, for so long my mind has been muddled on what true hospitality is. Does my house really have to be “perfect” before I invite others in? Does everything have to be “just so” in order for my guests to feel at home? Does it really have to be as stressful as I am making it?
Honestly, I enjoy having a clean home. Clutter and I have never been friends, vacuuming is a daily occurrence, dishes are done and put away, but I don’t really deep clean that often. Are you horrified yet? 🙂 I love having a clean home, but we still live in our home and before we have company I often put the pressure on myself to make my house look more staged than lived in!
A few weeks ago I began a personal Bible study on hospitality and it has challenged my heart! I LOVE the quote I read even just this morning, “We are a culture that has put in place nearly impossible standards for our hosts and ourselves. Birthday parties must be perfect, dinners need to be Instagram-ready, even play dates are themed. (and I love this part!) What we’ve lost in the perfection is the comfort and companionship that comes with being with another person in their mess. It’s not about living in filth, it’s about making relationships more of a priority than the homes they take place in.”
Having a clean home isn’t bad. Wanting my home to be welcoming isn’t wrong!
Where I take a turn in the wrong direction is when I put more emphasis on my clean home than I do on the guests that are about to fill it. Spending more time thinking about the dust bunnies under my couch than I do pondering and praying about how I can be a blessing to our company. It is wrong when I basically become selfish and self-centered about our home instead of thinking of the needs in others and giving of myself and our resources to meet those needs.
Sometimes being hospitable doesn’t take place in my home! At times it is seeing those that stand on the street corner in need and when the Lord pricks our heart we make a u-turn, go to McDonalds, purchase a meal, drive back to that street corner and look that person in the eye and share the love of Christ with them both by feeding them physically and reaching out to them spiritually. It may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but the more we reach out the easier it will become. It is exactly what Christ would do. Hospitality isn’t just about reaching out to those within our comfort zones, but reaching beyond them as well.
I love having people in our home. Our family loves people! Yet, I have been challenged in this study to begin to care more about the people I am having over than I do about the toothpaste I may have missed wiping up in the sink! People are more important than the presentation of my home.
No worries, I don’t plan to stop cleaning my home and have a pig-sty 😉 I am however, by God’s grace working on not stressing myself out over the state of my home before having company, realizing that staging doesn’t need to take place in order for my home to be inviting. Our home is lived in, and that’s okay! What is more important are the people about to enter it and making our home a warm and inviting haven for all who enter goes beyond cleanliness.
I’m thankful for the lessons God is teaching me, the conviction it brings, and the challenge to know Him more. Christ is the epitome of hospitality. He sees me in my mess and He loves me anyway. He points me back to Himself in a gracious and loving way. He is always available without even a moments notice. He knows that my heart is more important than my outward appearance.
If you ever stop on by and my home is not quite up to par, just know that I am thankful to have you at my table! You are more important than having all of the toys put away and every surface dust free. We will be glad to have you!