Married to the Empire

Monday, February 6, 2012


Hospitality is a spiritual gift.  One that I don't seem to possess.  Having people over always makes me feel stressed.  Part of it is probably because I'm afraid people will stare too hard at my house.  We have cracks everywhere from foundation issues and leaks under the house.  I hate the wallpaper in my kitchen.  I've never taken it down because the same wallpaper was in both bathrooms, and I'm pretty sure the previous owners super-glued it to the walls.  Taking it down in the bathrooms was a long, tedious process, as it only came off in tiny bits, no matter what method of removal we tried.  I'm not willing to be without my kitchen for days or weeks while we try to peel it off, piece by tiny piece.  Then there's the trouble of moving the cats' things to our bedroom and bathroom, moving the baby's swing, picking up all the pieces from around the house that let you know we live here

But really, those are mostly excuses.  I didn't used to think I was a perfectionist, but the older I get, the more I believe I actually am.  And because my home will never be perfect, well, I don't much like having people over. 

Funny how having a baby has, at least, relaxed me a bit on things.  Some of my former youth are home from college and want to stop by?  Sure!  I have a baby; surely they'll understand if things aren't freshly vacuumed.  Someone wants to drop off food?  Okay.  The kitchen is a wreck, but I have a baby, and I don't always have time to get to things right away.  (Truthfully, in that scenario, I truly was embarrassed, but we'd just come off of a really rough week and we'd barely been home, so I had to give myself a little grace on that one.) 

A $3 sale sheet purchased at IKEA makes an easy, inexpensive tablecloth for my oddly-sized table.

But what really challenged me was our youth group.  And the Super Bowl. 

My husband is the (volunteer) youth minister at our church.  Youth happens on Sunday nights.  Because this is Texas and football is king, we always have a Super Bowl party on Super Bowl Sunday in place of regular youth.  At someone else's house.  But this year, none of our usual homes were available to host, so Steven was just going to cancel youth last night and let the kids go watch wherever they happened to be invited.  The more I thought about that, the more it didn't sit well with me.  Admittedly, I hate football, and cancelling youth for a game seemed wrong somehow, even if it was only a football-watching party (not spiritual development) that was being cancelled. 

So, I told Steven we could have the party here.  In our tiny house.  (Most of the folks in our church have very large homes that are great for entertaining.  We do not.  Our house requires the rearrangement of furniture to house large groups.) 

The funny thing is, I felt good about it.  Not at all stressed, for once.  I was strongly influenced by a book I'm reading right now called Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn.  (I really recommend it, even though I'm only about 20% of the way through it.)  He makes the point that if we're Christians, we're meant to use what we have for God's glory.  From that I realized that I should be willing to open my home, whether it's perfect or not. 

I think the students had a good time.  We had tons of yummy food, and there was a lot of laughing and talking and just enjoying being together.  Did anyone comment on the cracks in our walls?  Well, yes, one kid did.  (I cringe every time that happens.)  But really, so what?  Yes, our house has had problems.  I shouldn't feel ashamed of it.  And truthfully, in spite of all its issues, I like my home. 

So I guess I can consider this a challenge to myself.  How can I better show hospitality to those around me? 


*carrie* said...

Thanks for sharing so honestly, Anne Marie. I'm glad you had a great time at the party, and that you feel more open to hosting people.

I was just reading earlier today on a different blog that often people really appreciate being invited into homes that aren't "showstoppers" because it makes them feel more comfortable, especially if they live in a more modest or imperfect home.

Kameron said...

I've always admired how clean your house is! I'm afraid to have you over because of that :-)

My house too has cracks from settling, tons of nail pops & my carpet is stained from all kinds of things. I have cats so there is cat hair on everything no matter how hard I try to clean it off.

I agree with Carrie! I always feel better in a "lived in" home vs. a "perfect" one!

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Roxie700 said...

I am reminded of the first time we went to visit my sister in law in their home. When we pulled up to the door I was almost in a panic. My two boys were HARD on things. When we got to their house everything in the front yard was perfect right down to the 'yard of the month' winner sign in the front window.
Yet, when she opened the door and we went into the house I almost fainted. Holes in the walls, the carpet missing from the floors, and the furniture is covered in paint. (she had twin boys of about 12 at the tiem) After that I relaxed and I was able to let the kids play and enjoy their time together.
Now, all these years later my own house is far from perfect. We have cracks, foundation problems, and need a new roof...but yet OUR home is the one where we always seem to come together. I hope it is because our home is a welcome place to be.

Eliza Diamond said...

Funny how God works things out so perfectly for us! I sooo needed this today. I am dealing with the same thing and can find a million excuses as to why I am not letting others "in". But I too am slowly realizing that all these things I have, no matter how cracked and stained, are gifts from God to be used for His honor & glory. Someday when I am older I won't want to look back and wonder who I could have known and the great memories I could have made but chose not to because I didn't have a perfect house. :( I am very sad for the time I have already let slip by me.... it is hard to change so I am glad to see someone else totally understands. :)

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