three-houses-hearts

Yesterday I had to practice what I preached.  Again.

A neighbor stopped by while I worked in the yard. Her daughter is a friend of eldest’s, so I invited them inside. I warned the mom, “The house is a wreck. A huge messy mess. I’m just going to treat you like family right off the bat, OK?”

She laughed. “We are family.”

“Then come in. And watch your step.”

Entering the disaster zone with her fresh eyes, though, was soooo challenging! I hadn’t realized it was that bad. Unfinished laundry piled on all available surfaces in the family room. Puzzles and game covered the dining table. Rachel’s nest of papers loomed in the corner. Books stacked on the toy chest and spilled toward the trampoline.

And the kitchen? You cannot imagine! Dishes ran rampant in and around the sink. Plus, I was in the middle of removing wallpaper from the kitchen, so wallpaper scraps sat in sad heaps all around the room amidst the steamer and all its accessories.

Worse, everything was in half-stages of completion. My ADD was in full swing today. The kids were so rowdy that I had escaped my inside tasks and started mowing the lawn to get some peace and quiet, if that tells you anything about the day. Even the lawn had high spots where I had gotten distracted and moved to another task.

All this went into inviting a neighbor into my house for the first time. She handled it like a champ, though. She found the only empty chair and sat, talking to me as I dripped sweat on the kitchen floor—it’s hot in Texas in August.

I sighed and shook my head. “You’ll probably tell your daughter never, ever to eat anything at my house. Ever. I’m so sorry it’s such a mess. Believe it or not, I used to be a perfectionist. My article, “Messy House Ministry,” was published after a moment just like this when I had to learn to be hospitable even though I was far from perfect.”

She let loose a wonderful, musical laugh. “Honey, you are BUSY.”

In the end, she invited me to her house, which was BEAUTIFUL BTW, and gave me some yum-o chicken salad.

The important thing, though, was that I made a new friend, one that is OK with my imperfections and will hopefully be comfortable sharing her life with me.

The embarrassment does lessen with time, but I still don’t like letting people see me in all my imperfect glory.

God, though, loves us even while we are far from perfect. I feel that showing my true self, rather than a magazine facsimile, helps people feel more comfortable around me.

How about you?

 

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19 Comments

  1. One of the MANY reasons I love you Jenn – you have the amazing ability to make every encounter with others be about THEM and not you. Shows you are full of Jesus, cause He spills out of you! You are wiser than your years! Love this post…and love you! And yes…I am all about showing my true self and when I am listening to Him I am able, those looking for perfection can bypass my home for sure! May your Messy House Ministry be the new battle cry of “real moms” everywhere!!!

  2. Thanks for the great pics, Katie!
    Cheers to all who struggle with messes as I do!

  3. I can so relate to your post. I own and operate an in-home daycare during the day, so my house is never spotless. I tended to be more Martha than Mary, so when people dropped by I couldn’t find the joy in their visit because I fixated on my mess. So glad you made a new friend!

    1. Thanks! I think that being so worn down physically has helped me slide over to the Mary side of the world. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone too far, though! “Mess? What mess? That laundry? No, that’s called decor…” LOL!!!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Loved this post! With a busy nine month old and full time job, my house is never as clean as I like. I needed this today.

    1. Aww! Anytime. In fact, stop by my place if you ever want to feel better!!!!! Back when my Labrador was still living I had time when a lady brought her baby over to visit. After sitting on the floor, the baby stood up and had a hairy hiney. Whoops! Amazing, though, that mom stayed my friend! LOL! Nothing like a little bonding over a shedding dog…

  5. Love the graphic – but love you more! Jennifer, I’m so glad you let my husband and I come over while you, your family, and your house were in its honest state. You’re very real house (the one that looks like everyone else’s when they’re too afraid to let people in), was comfortable and inviting and made me feel as if you trusted me with being a part of your life. You do that for readers but that’s still easier then opening a person’s actual door to another in a real, non-digital way, hoping they won’t judge you. I’m Certain that no matter what your neighbor’s opinion of the state of your house was, her very real internal voice likely took a deep sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to worry about you being the judgey neighbor we all think too much about! Love you!

    1. Thanks, my sweet friend! You are too kind! I do admit to having fantasies about being a librarian in Heaven, though. Ah, organization as far as the heavenly eye can see…. It helps. 🙂

  6. I love that you shared this with “the world”. My home often looks this way, as I have a difficult time staying “on task”. I love it when others share this about themselves. This may sound bad, but I am fortunate to have a friend whose home is also often in the same state, I love that we can visit each others homes, knowing neither one of us is judged.

    1. That is the truth. I find myself easily moved on to the next task. It’s really bad when I am cooking big dinners. One never knows what will turn up on the table, or if it will at all!

  7. Are you sure you weren’t in my home??!!

    1. Lol, Dianne! It’s good we can all relate. I figure it’s good core strengthening exercise to have to navigate through messes. So, having a messy house it actually working out, right????

  8. Shannon Simmons says:

    Thank your being so transparent, Jennifer! I’m a recovering perfectionist, too & I commend you on opening your home and imperfect life to a new friend. How liberating and excruciatingly painful was that?? If someone knocked on my door at this moment; I would have to do
    what you did. However, if it were you; it would be a lot less stressful! 😉

    Enjoyed the article!

    1. Awww. So true. It’s easier to let people into the deeper parts of our lives when they are transparent too, isn’t it? But being transparent can be scary. But rewarding in the end. A good friend of mine tells me often she’s so glad I’m the way I am today because she wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with me 10 years ago. 🙂 Hang in there, sweet friend!

  9. That’s good, I be so busy doing the day that my house get a little messy but it doesn’t change who or who’s I am thank you Lord for loving me in spite of my mess.

    1. So true, Cynthia! The temporary messes of life don’t change who you are or to whom you belong. Neither do so many of the other things we worry about. I hope your day is full of grace! 🙂 Hugs, sweet friend.

  10. You tell it like it is. You are so brave to let others into your real world. I am thinking that your innate writing skills are stronger than order in the house. One of the reasons I don’t like to cook is the mess I have to clean up when I finish.