an excerpt on hospitality

Still trucking through Jen Hatmaker's 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  I just finished month 6 where she cut out excess spending, resulting in a lot more meals and moments at home. Reflecting on the month, she notices how much more time she spent in homes.

There is something so nourishing about sharing your living space with people where they see your junk mail pile and pee wee football schedule on the fridge and pile of shoes by the front door. Opening your home says, "You are welcome into my real life." This square footage is where we laugh and hold family meetings and make homemade corn dogs and work through meltdowns. Here is the railing our kids pulled out of the wall. This is the toilet paper we prefer. Those are the pictures we frame, the books we are reading, , the projects we are undertaking- the raw material of our family. It's unsanitized and truthful. We invite you into this intimate place, saturated with our family character. (pg. 176) 
I read this paragraph and laugh. So many things resonate with me. Sure, our pile of shoes (and coats and hats and backpacks) is by the back door. There are a lot of meltdowns that are worked through. There are pen marks on the walls, cat scratches, dinks from someone who likes to zealously rearrange furniture. It is truly the raw materials of us. I love that about my house. So why do I feel the urge to "fix" those things when other eyes are around?

For the past year we have been regularly hosting our community gatherings on Sundays. There is that part of you that instinctively wants to hide the piles and the unfinished parts and the works in progress that seem to be a lot more work than progress. But I have started saying no to that urge. And it's good.

It's good to say to yourself, "I am more than my house." 

It's good to hear yourself say, "My personal value is not determined by the cleanliness of my kitchen floor." 

It's good for others to feel, "Oh, her house isn't perfect either."

It's good for my kids to learn, "We don't have to make our space perfect in order for others to be welcome."

It is good to look around at a dining room stuffed to the brim with people and think, "This is what my house is for." It's not for hoarding treasures, filling closets, alphabetizing bookshelves. My house is here to nurture people with rest, life, and community. 

What are the things I want to hide? The utter chaos that is my pantry. The pile of school papers, mail, coupons, and everything else that I just cannot part with but must keep in my small kitchen work space. The play room, which is the only thing in our house with a stronger will than the 2-year old. (That's not totally true. On the List of Strongest Wills it reads: 1- Play room. 2-Husband. 3-Two year old.)

The other thing that I am learning  finally admitting (brace yourself here) is that I am not good at everything. Organizing and keeping a house is not one of my strengths. And it is OK for someone to enter my house and realize as well that I am not good at everything. 

That's it. The secret is out. I cannot do it all and I refuse to try OR pretend that I can. 

So next time you feel the urge to invite people to dinner, don't be turned off by the state of your front porch or the dust on the TV. True hospitality will leave your guests feeling invited into your life, not wowed by your home. 


Nicole @ she-laughs said...

Not just kids... EVERYONE should learn that we don't have to have the perfect space to show hospitality. I love this!!

Um, that's why your boys will be sleeping in tents when you visit. :)

Becky said...

And they will love it.

Speaking of when we visit...WHEN?

Riss said...

It's so true to have an imperfect space and to embrace it. You know, we are just always comparing ourselves and it's really not doing anyone any good! Great post. :)