This past week I’ve been going through what I call Spic-Inspanity, or Anxious Overstressing to Have a Spotless Home. I have some Very Important Guests coming on Friday and so I assigned a room or two to make immaculate each day leading up to my guests’ arrival. I’m cleaning places and corners I’ve never cleaned (or seen!) before and while it’s gratifying to gain results and confidence in my home’s appreance, I think today I hit my wall. I’ve been going way over the top.
I tend to apologize unnecessarily for the way things look – whether it’s the house or myself. It’s the ever-embarrassed people pleaser in me. I ran out for an errand or two yesterday and called a friend on a whim to join me. I was so thrilled to have company on my small grocery run, but after spending a day up to my elbows in Pine Sol and Clorox wipes, I was looking a little rough. One of the first things I said to my friend when she walked up was, “Pardon my haggard appearance. I’ve been cleaning all day, the kids were nuts, and Andrew sweetly kicked me out of the house telling me to go have fun so I didn’t have time to freshen up.” She smiled and rolled her eyes, sweetly dismissing my self-conscious, unnecessary apology as soon as I gave it and our conversation carried on, much to my delight. She didn’t care that I looked like a total slob. It didn’t matter because it was just fun and refreshing to hang out.
My house is a similar story. It’s a darling little place. It’s sweet and cozy with a freshness to it that I love. It’s also 60+ years old and it shows from the original, single paned, paint-chipping windows to the worn floor creaking. When people see our always-hidden back bedroom, I slip into the same trap of telling them our plans for improvement – as if I’m trying to prove that I know of my home’s humble position: “This is the back bedroom, where we put on the things that don’t have places just yet…” “Oh pardon the floor in the kitchen…” “No, the boys don’t share a room yet, but we’re really working on it.” “Our back yard is pretty wild, but at least it’s spacious…”
Excuses excuses. If I were any friend of mine or visitor, I’d be tired of hearing it; and regardless if it’s for me or the house, the excuses don’t matter.
Genuine hospitality is a demonstration of peaceful welcoming. It is happy openness to God’s presence in the soul of each of your guests. True hospitality is love of God and neighbor with selfless outpouring of generosity. While this is at the heart of being a hostess, whether my towels match in the bathroom is flat-out irrelevant. In fact, I believe any fussing and fretting I do over unnecessary and meticulous chores has at its core the temptation to people please. It’s not inherently bad, just not completely focused. While we’ve made improvements to our tender home, its age will never dissolve. Regardless of its state of cleanliness or even if it’s kid-wrecked, my guests should always feel welcome to all that is mine. (well, except my husband.)