Messy Hospitality

story - hospitality


I have been inviting friends over to my home a lot more often recently.  For many of them, it has been their first time ever stepping foot here.

There is something about welcoming a friend to my house— a double-wide surrounded by gravel, dirt, horses, and chickens— with all its imperfections and clutter and silly quirks, that makes me feel a bit more self-conscious than usual.  I have to fight against the urge to explain why the dishes still haven’t gotten washed since last night, or why the pile of random craft items is next to the dining room table, or why there is a mountain of laundry piled up in my bedroom, or why my dog insists on leaning on them in greeting.  As much as I find it refreshing to go to other people’s homes and discover that they, too, aren’t perfect, I still find myself feeling uneasy when people come to my house and see the real me.

My typical M.O. is to get my residence ultra spic and span for the first time someone is going to come over.  After that, I tend to loosen up and allow them to see what our “real life” actually looks like— a little untidiness here, a broken kitchen drawer there, a toothpaste spotted sink in the kids bathroom, toys strewn all over the backyard.  You know: what homes really look like when you live in a house, don’t have a hired housecleaner, and you have kids and an actual life.

But lately I either haven’t had the time or the motivation to put the effort in to presenting a spotless house for someone’s first visit.  One time, when some new friends were coming over, my kids and I had just gotten home from a week away, so the house simply was what it was.  Another time, I had been out all day running errands and had only been home with the kids for an hour when my friends arrived.  And another time, I had just experienced one of the most emotionally draining days I had ever had in my adult life and I simply didn’t have the energy to make anything look more than “adequate” around the home front.

And although I recognize the blessing that is to be able to honestly share my authentic, imperfect self and home with others, I also felt bad.  Because the truth is: I actually enjoy making others feel special and honored when they come to my house.  I like to offer them a delicious homemade meal in a nice and tidy home.  It fills me with joy to be able to sit and chat with a friend in an orderly home while fresh flowers brighten up my kitchen table and tasty snacks are at the ready.  Honestly, that is the gift I would prefer to offer the guests in my home.

But lately, I haven’t had it in me to do that.  I feel like I’m just barely getting by: frazzled by a broken fridge, a stressed out husband, ever-growing children, and a burdened self.  I’ve got God with me, and He is absolutely helping me through it all, but still: I am in a season of challenge and don’t feel like I’ve got much else to give besides the real me and whatever energy or motivation God has given me for that particular day.  And, so far, He hasn’t been gifting me with the gumption to pretend like I have the time for a clean house on top of it all.

It’s humbling.  A large part of me is wondering how my friends are perceiving me now that they have been to my house and seen some of my messes.  But mostly?  I’m realizing that this is a different gift I am able to offer them.  No, it’s not the nice and tidy house, meal and ambience that I would prefer to offer them.  But it’s a gift all the same.  It’s the gift of authenticity.  The gift of imperfection.  The gift of being able to see inside someone else’s life and home and see that they, too, are simply a finite human being, clinging desperately to God, courageously offering up their true self despite it all.  Yes, that too is a gift.  That, too, is hospitality.




[This is Day 17 of the Write 31 Days Challenge.  This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives.  Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]

P.S. As a big fat THANK YOU to all of you faithful readers who have been reading along during this challenge, DaySpring is offering one lucky reader a $100 Shopping Spree to!  Click here to enter yourself.

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What about you?

In what ways do you find it hard to share your heart or home with generous authenticity?   How do you muster up the courage to do it anyway?

Please share your story in the comment section below.


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