Thursday, October 22, 2015

31Days - My Messy House

I've been known to walk outside to meet the pizza delivery boy. He thinks it's because of the large, excited, dog that my daughter is holding by the collar. At least that's what I hope he believes. To help with that impression I shout out, "Somebody hold the dog!" as I head for the door. Part of the reason really is to make sure the dog – who can get to 45mph in 6 feet – doesn't escape. He wouldn't hurt a flea (well, not intentionally) but he is fast; he loves to greet new people; and greyhounds are easily distracted and love to chase squirrels, cats, grocery bags flying in the wind and anything else that may move.... But if I'm honest, the main reason I call out is to give myself an excuse to keep the delivery boy outside my home.

Our home in TX was considerably larger than where we live now. We now live in 624 square feet. There's not even a place to hang coats in the winter, so the sofa becomes the coat tree. There just isn't room for all our stuff. Things get cluttered pretty quickly. And it's hard to clean when there's that much clutter. And it's easy to give up. Dusting doesn't get done as often as it should. I've not seen the top of my kitchen table for months at a time. Sometimes (okay a lot of the time) it's hard to even find the floor to vacuum the way I should. Hmmm... the way I SHOULD. Therein lies the problem. If I can't do something in the complete and full manner I believe it should be done, then I just won't start. So...

I try to prevent the delivery man from stepping inside and seeing the accumulation of stuff that hasn't found its home; the dust on top of the entertainment center; and – if it's been a busy couple of days – the dishes stacked in the kitchen. Because, believe me, with 624sq ft., you see it ALL from the doorway!

And I just don't want that seen.

So my fear for Day Twenty:

I am afraid of someone seeing my messy house.

Actually, I have reason to believe my mother is also afraid of anyone seeing it! She really did train me better... (Sorry, Mom!) So... yeah... it's a real fear... with some valid reasons behind it. So there's some truth in the fear. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
(1 Peter 4:8-9)

Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

To be honest, I've had a problem with that verse for other reasons than just my cluttered living room. I just don't consider myself to have a knack for hospitality. I consider myself fairly...umm... well... socially awkward. But I looked up the Greek word that's translated "hospitable." Thayer's dictionary gives it the meaning of "hospitable, generous to guests." Huh. Generous. I think I can do that! No outstanding entertaining skills required, just a generous heart. Cool!

I also, for the fun of it, looked up "complaint." Strong's listed the expected "a grumbling: - grudging, murmuring." But Thayer's added something: "a secret displeasure not openly avowed." Oh. A secret displeasure? You mean that sinking feeling inside as I tell a surprise guest, "No problem! Come on in!"? Oops. But it's not that I'm actually unhappy to have a guest... it's that I'm embarrassed to have a guest see my mess. But the answer for that might just be in realizing – and internalizing – the truth of verse 8:

Be fervent in love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Here's the deal. If I walk into your home and am welcomed with a warm, generous spirit, I'm not really going to care about the stack of paperwork on the coffee table or the dishes stacked in the sink. In fact, I'm probably going to be more at ease than if your home were in perfect condition. I can remember an occasion where that concept came home for me in a big way.

I walked into a very nice, large house that was perfect. I mean P-E-R-F-E-C-T. I knew kids lived there, but you couldn't tell it. There wasn't a spot of dust anywhere; not an out-of-place toy in the entire place. I felt like I was going to mess something up just by being there! Seriously! I was very conscious of the fact that I had shoes on my feet, but my hosts left their shoes by the door. I honestly felt uncomfortable even sitting down on the sofa. That sounds completely silly, but it was true! I sat on the edge, never at ease. I didn't even want to set my purse down on the bar or use the table to do something as simple as write a note. I was extremely uncomfortable the entire time I was there. It felt cold and sterile. I felt like I was messing up their perfect little world. I may have been offered a drink, but I was too uncomfortable to have accepted it even if I was. I'm sure they felt like they had a wonderful home for guests, but I couldn't wait to leave!

Contrast that with the friend who owned a very similar home in a very similar neighborhood. I walked in to see clean laundry on the sofa and dirty dishes in the sink. There was a project going on that had the dining table completely covered (in something other than a meal). I was met with a smile and welcomed in. She apologized for the laundry on the sofa. Honestly, though, the laundry, the dishes, the project – none of it mattered to me. I was cared for and at ease. I felt at home.

Did you notice something? I didn't do it intentionally. And I didn't notice it until I read what I just typed, but I used the word "house" in the first scene. And I used "home" in the second. The truth is, I felt much more comfortable, welcomed, and accepted in the home that wasn't perfect. I felt cared for. I think I probably was cared for in the first scene as well, but... somehow I felt like the house was the thing that was really cared for, not the people in it. The warmth of the reception was much more important to me than the perfect (or imperfect) appearance.

What I have to really take to heart is that when Peter talked about being hospitable, he was talking more about the way we treat people when they walk in the door (with love), than our entertaining ability or the lack of clutter on our coffee table. If I'm letting pride keep me from welcoming you into my life (and my home), then I've got a problem.

Oh. Pride. Pride is what drives my fear. Pride and what people think of me. Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 5 those who "take pride in appearance and not in heart" and he wasn't very happy with them! I need to get rid of that!

I need to take pride not in appearance, but in the heart.

And yet...

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
(Titus 2:3-5)

Yeah, I looked up "workers at home," too. It means what you'd think: "taking care of household affairs."

I still need to take care of my home!

So, no, I'm not advocating an excuse for slothfulness! There is a balance. And maybe I need to let go of the perfectionism that says "If I can't do it right, why bother?" Maybe I need to try a little harder... on both counts: keeping the house a little better; but also not letting perfectionism keep me from using my home for God.

Okay, Father... truth is, I'm guilty on both counts. I let perfectionism keep me from doing the things I should. When I don't think I can do things perfectly, I just give up. And when things aren't perfect, I do my best to hide. Help me, Father, to put others before myself. To make sure others are treated with love and respect and welcomed into my life and my home. That's hard, God. If I'm honest, I don't really want to change. I mean, I want to show Your love. And I do remember times of enjoying using my home for You in the past. Although... I probably would've enjoyed it more if I'd let go of the idea that my home had to be in perfect order. Help me to find the balance, Lord. Actually, at this point... just help me to begin to really want to find the balance! Because I'm not there yet. Honestly, It seems a lot easier in theory, than in practice... and in a lot of ways, I'd rather just keep hiding!

Fear: I am afraid of someone seeing my messy house.


  • We are to be hospitable to one another without complaint. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • We are to be fervent in love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
  • I need to take pride not in appearance, but in the heart. (2 Corinthians 5:12)
  • I still need to take care of my home. (Titus 2:3-5)


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).

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