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?
Jennifer Dyer has an M.S. in Communications Disorders, which served her well in her professional career as a speech-language pathologist. Never did she imagine that her education and career were God’s way of preparing her to be a mom to her own daughter with autism. Today, she enjoys reaching out to other families who face similar diagnoses. As a cancer survivor, carpet-cleaning veteran, and originator of the “Messy House Ministry,” Jennifer feels blessed to share joy, peace, and humor with others facing life’s challenges. She is mom to two beautiful daughters and is thankful to be raising them, serving other families with unique needs, and using her gift of writing and speaking to minister to others. Jennifer is also the author of a youth fiction book series and is trusting God with His timing on publication. Jennifer has been a mom for 11 years. She and Brandon have been married for 13 years.