Monday, June 15, 2009

Keeping the main thing the main thing

Here's a quirk of mine: I love walking through cemeteries, and I always have. They're quiet, peaceful, burgeoning with secrets and stories at which one can only guess. I love reading the inscriptions on the headstones and wondering about the lives summed up in so few words, and about the ones who chose those words for their departed. 

But here's the thing. In all my rambles, I have NEVER, not a SINGLE time, encountered a headstone to this effect: "She always kept a spotless house." Not once. 

I've also read through the entire Bible several times, and never encountered anything that leads me to believe God particularly cares about how closely our homes resemble an ad for The Container Store. 

Over the years of childbearing and childrearing, I've gradually surrendered many of my perfectionistic standards, although they haven't gone down easily. But this week we get put to the test, with four houseguests coming to stay, two of whom we know and love, and two of whom we're never met (we're helping out with a conference our church in hosting). 

Of course I'm cleaning, decluttering, making sure all the beds have sheets, etc. But in the midst of it, I'm also trying not to lose sight of the main thing, which is an attitude of hospitality. Yielding to the temptation to try to have things JUST SO, I will not only kill my family but also allow resentment to creep in, not to mention a hope that these guests appreciate my efforts. Not good. 

Instead I want to keep the main thing the main thing. People are more important than things. We'll get things as ready as we can. But when it comes down to it, I hope what we really have to offer our guests is a peaceful home and an open heart. Even if there's a smear or two of blue toothpaste on the edge of the bathroom sink. 


Naomi said...

A good reminder as I'm here cleaning up my own house for the wife of a brother who will be attending said conference this week. :-) Part of me would LOVE to be down there this week though, what with all the blending and such reunion and such ministry! Lord, bless the gathering; Lord bless the hospitality and the blending!!

Stephanie said...

Hear! Hear! Clean sheets - check. Clean dishes - check (sort of). Clean bathroom - um, not yet.

Eclectic Mama said...

I should have read your post before I griped at the kids for leaving birthday cake cement on the kitchen table tonight. I would have been more Zen about it.


Marianne said...

I'm looking forward to the day when people always become my priority. When I care more for the person than the borrowed skirt that got returned ripped, the scratched pan, or the broken chair. When preparing for hospitality is not at the cost of making all those that i live with miserable. Hannah, may your family and houseguests enjoy life and building.

Marianne Peralta

Anne said...

Oh, this is hard. But you're right -true hospitality isn't about presenting a perfectly clean house. In fact, spotless houses just make real people feel badly about themselves, I think. :-)

Lydia Anthony said...

A lesson the Lord has been slowly beating into the heads of my family for the past 6 years.

I think He's making slow but steady progress.

Vanessa said...

Oh, but wouldn't it be funny of someone's headstone did say that?! One point to raise about a clean house. . .it makes me feel better and peaceful, however, everyone around is unhappy as I bossed them all around.