Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When People Come to My Home...

...I'd rather they feel welcome than impressed.

I'd rather they feel at home than in awe.

I'd rather they give glory to God than glory to me.

I'd rather they know that they can leave their shoes on and track dirt onto my floors than feel like they must take their shoes off at the door (although, of course, if they want to take their shoes off, that's fine with me!). I realize, too, that the "shoes off" issue is very culturally-driven; for example, when we lived in Israel, we had many Russian friends there, and I became very accustomed to taking my shoes off when I entered their home...and not just taking my shoes off, but putting my feet into a pair of their slippers that they brought me! That seemed strange to me at first - a little too close for my comfort - not quite as bad as sharing toothbrushes, but still uncomfortably close. :) But, "when in Rome, do what the Romans do." So I did. Earlier this year, when we visited a local Russian housechurch, we took our shoes off at the door, and I slipped a pair of their slippers on my feet. I even smiled while I did it. ;)

I'd rather they know that their kids can be noisy and cry and play and run and touch and, yes, even break something, than feel as if they must constantly be darting fiery glances at their children to remind them to sit down and be quiet and, for pete's sake, don't touch anything.

I'd rather they notice the warm atmosphere of our home than the glamorous look of it.

I'd rather they leave thinking, "That was wonderfully relaxing; when can we come again?" than "Whew, we made it out without breaking something or messing something up. Now I can breathe freely."

I'd rather my graciousness extend, not just to our guests, but also to my family before and after the visit, so that my precious family doesn't pay a price for the hospitality we extend to others.

That's a lot of "rathers!"

If, in order to accomplish these rathers, I need to let some things go, ignore some cobwebs and dust bunnies floating around, have a pile of need-to-be-sorted papers on the counter, still have a mountain of laundry in my laundry room, not stress about the unfinished painting in the corner of the new openings in the wall between our kitchen and living room, not worry about the threads hanging off our couch where the fabric is fraying, etc., then so be it. I can crucify my perfectionist ideas of how my home should look for the higher goal of making it a place of peace and love and joy and welcome and warmth and laughter.

Because that is what people will remember.

And I'll remember this little beauty, who's sleeping under my roof tonight...


Julie said...

You home is always a treat to visit. Thank you for being so generous with it. This from the mom whose little boy could always find the toy "weapon" back in the day...I remember never feeling judged by that(howbeit rather embarrassed), so thank you!!!!

Polly said...

I agree! One of the best compliments I felt I received was when my best friend's husband left our house for the first time after visiting (years ago) and said "you have such a comfortable, welcoming house." Now when he comes he puts his feet on the coffee table--with the best of manners, of course, not in a sloppy, uncivilized way.

I love it!

Davene said...

Thanks so much, Julie & Polly!

I thought of another thing to throw into this discussion to balance the "I don't care how my home looks as long as we're happy" mentality. I have been a guest in people's homes that were so crowded with STUFF that I could hardly find a place to sit; and no matter how welcoming the hosts were, I couldn't relax at all there. I've also been a guest in homes where there was obvious dirt and stench, and that was far from relaxing, too.

My point in this post is probably obvious, but I'll reiterate it for myself: I know how I can be, I know that my tendencies are to judge MYSELF too harshly and find the black speck on the otherwise white wall. I want to give myself grace as I approach the subject of hospitality. However, I also want to have a clean home because no matter how jovial a hostess I might be, if my home is a pigpen, THAT is what the guests will remember! :)

One more thought: in reading back through my list of rathers, the one that seems the very hardest to me is the last one - letting my graciousness extend to my family before and after the visit. It's too easy for me to let stress bring out Snippy Mommy who rushes her children and snaps at them if they dawdle while brushing their teeth or if they get out some toys on the floor that I was just getting ready to vacuum. I want my best behavior to extend, not just to guests, but to my very own dearest ones.

Margie said...

I struggle with this. I want to have my home be perfect before visitors come, but it never is, and I've got to learn to let it go and invite people, regardless. And I never, ever go to someone's house and think, "This sure could use some cleaning!" So I wonder where I get my concern? I really don't worry about other people's homes, but I do my own, and with tea set pieces everywhere, and princess gowns and crowns, and a ballerina dance mat, it looks "lived in." I need to practice saying, "Come over! I'd love for you to visit!" And hope that they come.

Liberty said...

You are an amazing hostess, friend and example. Thank you so much for opening your home to us, showing us how to be better parents, teaching me to be a better wife and loving us so much.

I was stressed that my kids were wasting food, making too much of a mess, etc., but you were wonderful about everything (even the pee on the feather bed)!