Feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment threatened to induce panic. Mother’s of my daughter’s friends would soon see my house. Memories of my girls reporting how much neater, how much bigger friend’s houses were, kept replaying.
What would those other moms think? My living room was full of dust from the six 2-week old chicks residing in a Rubbermaid by the fireplace. My backyard was a construction zone as my husband tried to squeeze chicken coop building into his packed schedule. The locust tree in front picked this week to blanket everything in pollen, and then it rained. There were piles in the dining room: pieces of kids’ artwork I hadn’t put away yet, a Popsicle stick house one girl is building, gag gifts for my husband-coach from the team, some communication from the director of the play my daughter was in. We live in every corner of this little house. We have faded, dirty couches, and enough odd pets to pretend we have a petting zoo (1 parrot, 2 guinea pigs, and 6 chicks). Our organization system is called piles and the detached one-car garage is overflowing into the yard. I know, from visiting, that I probably have the messiest house of most of my friends. Why did I want to host this group of girlies every week? I’m a stay-at-home mom, why isn’t my house cleaner?
My mother-in-law once told me the most hospitable women she knew wasn’t the one with the neat house. It was women who never had dinner finished when company arrived. She put her guests to work chopping and wiping and setting. Because hospitality isn’t the state of your house, it’s the welcoming in your spirit. There are physical aspects to hospitality. A comfy place to sit, good conversation, a bit to munch and cup to drink from, and a level of cleanliness that doesn’t disgust are helpful. In the end, I know I will never bless people with my organization skills (my friend, Manda, though, she has reorganized a cabinet or two and blessed). God’s given me other gifts, of shepherding, and writing.
So despite my panic over the state of my house, I pressed on, forcing myself to focus on having the craft ready rather than trying to sweep the tree mess off the sidewalk or dust the fireplace mantel. Later, I smiled and welcomed 4 mini-women into my home, as they have done for the past three summers. They laughed, screamed, ran, and shared their heart-stopping friendship struggles and the scriptures we found in the devotion that helped. And while the girls may have noticed my messy house, they want to come back every week. Organization and neatness fall out of focus when hearts connect, even for this momma. I need to retrain my brain to stop comparing and to remember that hospitality is not about visual or culinary pleasantness but about helping hearts connect.