Why You’ve Got to Have Guests When Your House isn’t Perfect

wood door

I learned the hard way that it’s better to invite a friend in than tell them no because you are embarrassed.

I said NO once, years ago. And I still regret it. Telling my friend she can’t come in to use the bathroom went way deeper than my shame over a falling apart weird bathroom in a 100 year old house that we rented. It wasn’t because I was afraid there was underwear on the floor, I could have run in and made a joke about straightening up really quick…

Me not allowing her to come in was me telling her that I couldn’t really trust her.

I was telling her she can’t be trusted with the imperfections of my life so I have to go to great lengths to hide them. I was telling her that I believed she would judge me.

The truth is, there are some people in the world who can’t be trusted with the imperfections of my life, but usually, I’m not friends with them. Usually those aren’t the people dropping me off at my house who ask if they can come in and use my bathroom. Those are the people I can trust with my mess. If not them, then who?

Inviting someone into your home is a high form of trust.

It says here are my powerlines, here are my unfinished things. I trust you can handle that. It’s okay. Life goes on. People are more important than how I rate my stuff. And I trust you feel the same way.

door

Inviting someone into your mess says: I trust you.

Hospitality isn’t about impressing your friends. Who wants to go to that house?

free from judgingdon’t you love it when you are writing a post and your sister happens to tweet the perfect quote?

Hospitality isn’t about me. It’s about you who come into my home. It’s about listening and connecting and encouraging. It’s about rest and peace and fun. And hopefully eating something delicious and drinking iced coffees.

Guess what? I can do all of that with half stripped wallpaper, carpet pad for flooring in our upstairs hall and a pink toilet.

If you are lucky, that friend will hold your hand and point out the beauty that you might not see.

If I wait until my house is acceptable before I invite people in we are both losing. Because I know me, and I’ll never deem it acceptable. It’s worth it to start now.

friends

friends Maria, Logan & Jeremy, Reeve, Caroline, Jen, Asheley & Jamin, Karrie & Josh’s party, & Angela, Darlene & Shannon (my design mentors!) have all been to our fixer-upper unfinished home in the past six months. I’m so glad I did it anyway. I’m so glad I said yes.

This weekend Tsh and Kyle and the kids are coming. She has a book signing & reader meetup here in Charlotte (Chad & Reeve & I will be there, we hope to see you there!) and our husbands have gotten to know each other enough that this seems like a really fun idea. So basically, the Simple Guru of the Internet is coming to my unfinished, fixer-upper, chaotic house. She actually came a few months ago, when our house was in even more chaos. So that helps me remember the words I write in this post. Because I too, have to remember that THIS is so worth it and that Tsh can be trusted with my imperfections. I know she can.

Will I clean my house? Of course. Will I fret and worry and apologize? Nope.

We’re happy to welcome the Oxenreider family into our world where things aren’t perfect because we trust they can relate.

 

things aren't perfect

 

Because your house might not be perfect but your home & hospitality are exactly what we need.

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Comments

  1. I love the connection you make between trusting people and letting them into our homes. Such an important link that I often forget. A texted a friend the other day to see if I could drop by and was so thankful when she replied, “The house is a MESS, but please come over anyways.” That’s authentic friendship.

  2. This post is why I love your blog and look forward to hearing what you have to say. Thank you.

  3. I appreciate your post – I too have struggled with feeling my house must be perfect before people visit. I’m working in it!

  4. Oh, darling girl. You really do have a way of hitting the nail very squarely on the head.

    At heart, I wonder how many of the things I do and the decisions I make on a daily basis all come down to the question of trust. Hmmmm. I think there may be quite a few. And then, ultimately, there’s the question of whom I DO trust. Is there anyone?? This bears thinking about.

    Maybe you should have a sign made for your door, just letting people know what you do. . . I’m imagining an old-fashioned store sign . . . something like “Cans of Worms Opened Here.”

    Love the way you do it, though!

  5. This post blessed me tremendously! I’m now FREE! I shared it to a couple of my dearest friends and my daughter. Thank you for writing this. God bless you.

  6. I read this post and then experienced it first hand. I was coming to town for business and asked to stay with friends and told them the wrong day- so when I showed up a day early the house wasn’t “ready.” There were dirty dishes and stuff out of place and they gave me the sweetest most genuine “come in, sit down and talk.” They didn’t bustle around trying to clean up and make it perfect, they were clearly just happy to have me. It hit me how much more that is worth! Thank you for your words.

  7. Okay, here I am getting ready to fall on my knees and empty out my untrusting heart. Trust. That’s it. That’s why I am the obsessing hostess that I am. I don’t trust. Others’ messes don’t faze me at all, but I can’t have a mess in my own world. Oh no. Oh my. What a humbling revelation. As ugly as it makes me feel right now, I am still overwhelmingly thankful to have it revealed. I have been wondering what was off. Now, I know. Thank You.

  8. Years ago while living in a foreign country, we were invited to dinner at someone’s home. We were newly married, knew no one and didn’t know the local language so we were especially thankful to be invited to their American home. After we ate, I offered to help clear the dishes and clean up the kitchen. My hostess stunned my heart when she said, “No, let’s leave them. You are only here for a while. The dishes will still be here when you are gone. I would rather just enjoy our time together.” I felt so valued and loved by someone who barely knew me. I try to do this for my own guests that try to offer to help clean up. Yes, I have a mess at the end of the night but I can remember the fun we had while I do it. (I now recognize the Biblical source for her action.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. A house lived in is most definitely a home. My ex did a pop in my day…in the middle of my chaos. I had all kind of stuff going on right in the middle of the living room and dining room. Our daughter went outside upon her own doing trying to cut him off. My ex is somewhat of perfectionist. Well, apparently he insisted on coming him. And it started… I can guarantee you it will happen again.

  10. Brittany says:

    Amen, and thank you ma’am. Seriously, thank you!

  11. I just invited my family over to my house if they didn’t mind the dog hair on the sofa.
    Sorry folks…I really enjoy cuddling with my Louisiana Porch Dog and you’ll just have to deal with it. :D

    • Marlynn says:

      This is the way that I feel. My husband and I consider our dogs as part of our family, but I am embarrassed when people come to my house and there is dog hair everywhere. I feel that they think that my house is dirty and don’t want to come back.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I invited someone into my house and got burned when they walked in and said “wow! Looks like you’ve been robbed”. I have three children under seven, yes, my house is a mess. Since then I haven’t opened my home up to anyone. Something I am struggling with.

    • Those are the kinds of people you don’t need to have true friendships with. I’m so sorry that someone was that rude and hurtful to you. Please don’t let it prevent you from opening up!

  13. Thank you for this post. I was referred to you by Kitchen Fellowship and I’m so glad to find your wisdom. I was in this ridiculous cycle of wanting to be friends with someone so much and yet I was afraid to have them over to see my fixer-upper house. I was afraid of their rejection. Sigh.
    I have had two new friends come over to visit and remark that my husband owes me big time for agreeing to buy our house. Which kinda hurt! But I suppose I don’t want friends I need to impress with my house, right?

    • Barbara Bussey says:

      Move on, darling! Hopefully these two came at once, to minimize the effort, as you showed them the door!

  14. EXCELLENT post. Perfect timing!

  15. The struggle for illusion and perfection extends to other parts of my life as well. It is a lie that I will have something to offer when I have reached some type of perfection. I am realizing that the mess of my life is what I have to offer others. I am drawn to those who freely share their imperfection yet I want to offer up an illusion instead. My prayer is to be authentic and I must repeatedly confess the lie and ask God to replace it with his best instead.

  16. I totally understand the trust thing. I am not the world’s best housekeeper. I would rather spend precious time with my kids than keep a spotless house. Now that’s not to say I live in squalor. I just don’t mind if my house is messy! If my kids build a fort out of blankets and pillows, they can keep it up all week for all I care!

    I quit inviting people in if my house wasn’t perfect when my mom stopped for a visit one day. She called me later that night and pointed out every imperfection she saw in my home and with my housekeeping. You see, she kept a perfect home. We were never allowed to make a mess. We didn’t dare take out toys out of our bedrooms, and God forbid we ever leave a mess overnight…no matter how many hours it took to build that Barbie house out of kleenex boxes and scraps of fabric! That gene skipped right on over me, and when she pointed it out, I was ashamed. I started taking it out on my kids when they left a mess. I started being angry because my house was never THAT clean. I was miserable. I never allowed anyone to come over to my house ever again unless it was totally spotless. Well, guess what? My parents have been to my house in 10 years. My best friend has been invited once or twice. I have been a captive in my own home because I was afraid of the judgement that would ensue when everything was less than perfect. I still don’t know if I could trust my friends to come into my imperfect home. I’m glad you are able to do so.

  17. I was referred by Clean Mama on Facebook today.

    A couple of years ago, I invited a woman over who I thought was a close friend. Like most other people, I only ever invited people over when the house was picked up and tidy enough in my opinion. Inviting her over was no exception. About six months into our friendship, something just *happened* I’m not sure what, and she decided to call my husband’s command and insist that they get involved to call CPS on me. Thankfully, I had another good friend who could vouch that my home was not a threat to my children’s health, safety, or wellbeing, so they didn’t take this awful woman’s word for it. However, since that episode (and it’s been three years now) I get extreme anxiety before people come over, so that I’m yelling at my kids to straighten up and cleaning feverishly up to the moment they arrive. There is no joy or anticipation for me, so I very rarely invite anyone over. I have no idea what to do about this. If my best is not good enough, how am I supposed to trust anyone? Oh, and I have to say that threatening to call CPS is so much worse than actually having it done (I assume) because I feel like if they had come over, they could have “certified” me and I’d have a piece of paper to remind me, and anyone that would try to attack me again, that my home is good enough.

    • Although that particular situation has not happened to me (You can read my comment just above yours!) I totally understand your fear! I mean for me, if I couldn’t trust my own mother, who can I trust?? I don’t know how to get over it either. I did start to notice that I was beginning to make friends with people whose houses were at messier than mine so I didn’t feel so bad about them coming to my house!! Not sure that’s exactly where I want to be either!

  18. I don’t host guests or friends at my house because I don’t trust them. They will gossip and smear me behind my back. Them is the facts.

  19. Wonderful post and such a good point. This reminds of growing up and my mother could be such a perfectionist when it came to the the house :) She wanted the house to look so immaculate before anyone walk in the door. Not even a plumber or a handyman who needed to come into work! House needed to be cleaned first! One time we had a lot of guests coming over and we went to so much work and trouble to fix up. Afterwards, when they left, the house was a mess, mud tracks all over, etc and I asked my mom a ? which came a regular one. “Why do we work so hard to clean the house up, only to have to do it all over again the next day when they leave. She bursts out laughing:))) I so agree too. If people are going to come in your home, being so judgamental and with their ‘noses in the air’, looking for dust particles or whatever, then you don’t need them for friends.

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