We host a small gathering at our home every Sunday night. We study a topic or discuss the sermon we heard at church that morning but mainly we gather around our table and share a meal. Last night I learned a lesson from one of the men who attended. I want to share how he helped me to be thankful in the middle of our home’s imperfection.
Growing up in a home that was cleaned pretty much top to bottom every Saturday created an expectation in my mind about how I'm supposed to keep my house clean. I have NEVER yet meet that mental expectation.
There have been YEARS where we couldn't have people over without me going into a whirlwind of cleaning. We (the children and I) would spend a crazy amount of time trying to make the house spotless. It was not a pretty scene.
This is a HUGE battle that I wage within myself. Is it wrong to want others to see our house is clean? Yes. Yes it is certainly is wrong when it causes me to act in a way that shakes up my peace and steals the joy out of the occasion. I'm still not over this expectation.
Remember it's a battle? I bet I'm not the only one who deals with this.
But I am over the losing my cool with my family in order to have a perfect looking house.
Well mostly. I'm such a work in process.
We LIVE here and they know it
There are dirty dishes, puppy dog nose prints, papers that aren’t filed, and dust that has settled in our home. Come on over and you can see it most days.
Part of not loosing my cool is learning to be ok with letting somethings go. It helps me not to act like the wicked witch of the west.
That doesn't mean we don't clean. We have a routine that we do before everyone come in for dinner. The floor is swept. Dishes are done. The bathroom is presentable. I just choose to not have expectations of a perfect home. It is never going to happen.
I know that these sweet people who come to share our home for a few hours would prefer that I am loving and kind rather than work myself to death for an immaculate house.
I'm glad imperfections don't stop you
So on to this comment that my friend "Tom" made as we were filling our plates.
His words stopped me in my tracks.
It was the perfect example of scruffy hospitality. Don't know what that is? Go read that article right now. I'll be here when you get back. Because of that article I've changed my standard from having a perfectly clean home when guests come to having an inviting, open home that takes people as they are and expecting them to do the same for me.
So standing in my kitchen, "Tom" said “I’m glad the imperfections in your house don’t stop you from having us here” He was standing on the laminate in my kitchen that is water damaged and very uneven. You can’t miss it because it’s right in front of the sink.
Every one of the people who come to our small group has washed their hands or gotten a drink of water so I know that they have felt the funny ridges that hide under the rug. What struck me about "Tom's" comment was that those imperfections were what made him feel welcome. He could relax because I wasn't stressing about it all being just right. He didn't need perfect. It would have made him less comfortable in my home for it to all be perfect.
These strangers who started coming in September have become friends despite the imperfections of our home. They come to see us and to enjoy the sweet fellowship of conversation and support.
They now look in my silverware drawers and cabinets for dishes or spoons when they need them. They stash ice cream in my messy freezer after dessert is over. They take out the trash if it gets full. They know where the glasses and mugs are at and they don't wait for me to get them out.
And you know what? It doesn’t stress me out. I love that they are comfortable and want to come despite our dirty, messy, cluttered home. I love knowing that they are comfortable dragging a chair or footstool in from another room so they can sit at the table.
Last night as our friends were getting ready to leave I noticed that my iron was sitting on our mantle because I had been making personalized coir rugs last week. I had forgotten to put it away and yes it was WAY out of place.
But it was ok. I was thankful for our imperfect home and lives that we are blessed to share with our friends and family. If this resonated with your you might want to read how long this process has been going on because it has taken a long time to figure out that peace is better than perfection.
Encouragement for YOU!
My hope for you this Thanksgiving week is that you choose to be a little imperfect in your preparations for the upcoming holiday. Choose to celebrate with joy and thankfulness and don’t hold yourself to a standard that is probably impossible.
Your guests just might thank you for it.
More awesome posts about Thanksgiving! Lots of great things below so be sure to click over and read what the Happy at Home ladies are sharing this week!