Personally, a messy house is my biggest hurdle to showing hospitality, and the root of it, if I’m honest, is pride.
I want people to think we’re cleaner than we are, that I’m more organized than I really am, that our kids are obedient children who have learned to put things back after they take things out – that I’ve got it alllllll under control.
(And I don’t want the toothpaste in the sink to somehow disclose that it’s still there because I’ve been frittering away time on social media to avoid cleaning the bathroom!)
Who wants to build a relationship with a phony?! Impossible standards are a deterrent to meaningful relationships! Real hospitality can’t be about us.
When I send myself into a panic and bark out orders for everyone to CLEAN UP!, I’m teaching them to view hospitality as a burden instead of a blessing.
The truth is, most people feel more at home in a place that looks lived in, especially if they have kids. Places that are too pristine sometimes leave you wondering if you’re breaking any rules. It’s harder to relax and settle into a comfortable conversation when your environment feels unnatural.
I’ve been blessed with a few dear friends who have embraced “scruffy hospitality,” and their homes are my favorite places to visit. They have challenged my attitude towards last-minute invitations, and revealed how much I still have to learn about hospitality’s heart.
We have cried, hugged, prayed, laughed, and eaten together, surrounded by dishes on the counter and piles of laundry waiting to be folded. Not once have stray toys or dusty baseboards ever interfered with our ability to enjoy one another’s company.
That said, if I know in advance that someone is coming over, I do try to have the house tidied up a bit before their arrival as a way of saying, “You’re important to us, and we’ve been looking forward to your visit! I have time for you because I am not distracted by things that need to be done.“
If I’m in a time crunch, I prioritize the tidying the entryway, main living area, and the main bathroom, and close the doors to other rooms in the house. Keeping a regular house cleaning schedule, and getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or bring you joy makes things a lot easier to manage.
Our kids are always on board with having people over. They understand that their help is required to make it happen more frequently, and are usually happy to pitch in. Building friendships and meeting new playmates is a fantastic reward for shoveling the driveway, wiping down the bathroom counters, tidying up their rooms, and loading the dishwasher!
Just like anything, the more we practice having people over, the easier it gets, and our “Company’s Coming!” clean-up routine becomes more efficient as the years go by.
For your consideration:
“Do you mind if I pop in for a minute? I’m in town and have the book I borrowed from you with me to return!”
What’s the first thing you would clean up if you got this text?
Or would you try to keep the conversation at the door because you’re embarrassed of the mess behind it?
I really don’t want to be the person that hesitates to invite someone in. Here’s how you can help me with this: drop by sometime unannounced. 🙂
2 thoughts on “Obstacles To Hospitality: A Messy House | Part 3”
I love your attitude and must remark that back in my homeschooling days (from 1990 to 2008) I practiced a much more relaxed hospitality. Since I retired, it has been a trial to shake that relaxed attitude and my poor husband (the fussier one of us) has become more relaxed about it since He retired. My quibble with your article only comes with the downsizing mantra about “getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or bring you joy.” It seems that almost everything serves a purpose to someone and/or brings joy to someone else. The more people in the house, the harder that would be. Even now, with only my husband and myself, I am plagued with thoughts about an item that is dear to one of the kids (or grandkids) and how much they will miss it when they visit… I have tried to offer these things to them to take home, but “Mom, you have so much more room here,” always comes back to me. It is true that because there are only 2 of us (most of the time) in 2000 square feet, that there is more room per/occupant, but you fail to consider that there are another 24 part-time occupants (not counting pets) who want to claim some right to that space. When they were younger and still at home, it was easier to exercise authority over them and their “property,” but now I miss them so much that their “property” keeps me company. Not so much my husband…he could more easily just haul it out to the curb. That said, every time he has done so, he conveniently forgets later when he wants to be comforted by the presence of some long-ago “forgotten” 4-H poster!
Great reminder and humbling to call it like it is…pride!