Okay, a bucket of nerves may be a bit dramatic, but I am nervous. Tomorrow, we are having people over for dinner. Yes, it is as terrifying as it sounds. In just over twenty-five hours, five people (three children and two adults), are going to peek behind my shades and actually see my inner dwelling.
A little background: The folks coming over have been our friends for over ten years. Yes, over ten years and we frequently visit their house (like, almost weekly). In other words, these are not scary folks; yet, I keep finding dust and thinking, “They are going to see this!” Or, I may run across old splatter stains from my juicing days and think, “Wow, they are going to think we are completely disgusting!” Not an hour ago, I was chipping away at some brown stuff that had collected around the grooves in my sink. However, will I get it all done in time?!
The dog hair needs to be removed from all furniture!
The front door needs washing!
I need to organize the shelf above our toilet!
There is never enough time!!!
This is me falling into the entertainment trap. If you read Monday’s post, you remember me quoting Practicing Hospitality by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock: “Hospitality is love in action.” What I am attempting to do by flying into a frantic cleaning rage has nothing to do with hospitality and everything to do with entertaining. I know this because I am battling thoughts like, “They are going to think less of us because our home is cluttered. She is a better housekeeper than I am. Our grass needs cutting and our shutters need washing.”
For the purposes of hospitality, these thoughts are ridiculous. Eric and I do not attract the kind of friends who snub people over dust and old juice stains. These friends are precious, they love us, and I need to chill out. As I write this, I am attempting to shift my mind from thinking like an entertainer (something I am not nor probably ever will be) to thinking like a friend. This family is not looking for me to put on a show. In fact, if I did, it would probably make them extremely uncomfortable. They are looking for fellowship and if a little dust turns up throughout the evening, the laughs will continue just the same.
When Entertainment Set My House on Fire
I am happy to report that I have become a better housekeeper over the years; but, as a newlywed, I would let dishes pile up indefinitely. Perhaps it took me a few years to realize Mom was not driving to Virginia to clean my kitchen. ~smile~
Several years ago before these same friends were married, we had them over for a Bible study on Saturday mornings. Knowing these folks kept their living spaces clean, my pride jumped up and reminded me of a great trick I used in college: to pass room check, I would throw all my dirty dishes into the microwave so they would be out of sight – genius, right? Well, a bigger kitchen area means more dishes – and more dishes means I needed a bigger hiding spot.
So, I started stuffing dirty plates, Tupperware, and cups into the oven. Eric, who always seems to come around when I am up to something naughty, saw my peculiar behavior and inquired about what I was doing. “I am hiding the dishes in here because I do not have time to wash them before company comes over.” He did not approve and strongly suggested I remove them, but I confidently continued with my plan. In fact, I was rather proud of myself for thinking of it. Some of the world’s most creative people are slobs!
It worked! They never knew my dishes were hiding in a secret cave. The only trouble was… I forgot about them too. As I awoke the next day, I felt inspired to make Eric a green bean casserole – one of his favorites. I preheated the oven, walked away, and then began smelling an unpleasant aroma. Suddenly, I remembered my ingenious plan!
I ran to the oven, tore it open, and there they were – a pile of melting dishes. Of course, they were not metal. They were not glass either. Oh no, they were plastic dishes. Thin, cheap, easily meltable, plastic dishes and they were hanging between the metal bars of the oven tray. By now, Eric was alerted to the scent, and he was not as excited about my green bean casserole endeavor as I hoped he would be.
He turned on fans, opened windows, and sent me away (much like he did the time I set the stove top on fire – but that is another story for another day).
Reminiscing and Lessons Learned
I still smile when I tell that story. It reminds me to have a mindset of hospitality and not one of entertainment. Should I keep my house clean? Yes, I should. Should I keep my house immaculate and scream at Eric when he does not take off his shoes? No, I should not (and do not). When our friends walked into my dirty kitchen that day years ago, I could have apologized for the mess, not apologized for the mess, or actually cleaned the mess, but hiding it backfired. It was a blow to my pride and a pretty funny one. (Eric is still not amused. ~smile~)
Reminiscing about my oven fire has calmed me down a bit. Tomorrow, I plan to play worship music, work steadily, prepare my home to be comfortable, and resist the urge to turn into a stark raving lunatic. It is going to be fun. We will eat, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. No panic required.
I am still learning the practical differences between hospitality and entertaining. Hospitality is a state of mind. Stocking a few snacks and keeping my home comfortable is all I need to embrace hospitality. It will take some time, experience, and probably prayer to completely shift gears, but the switch is starting!
Bring on tomorrow!
Has your pride ever led you to avoid embracing hospitality?