We have a large florescent light in our kitchen. It’s hideous. It’s awful, and my husband loves it.
He says its because he needs to be able to see when he cooks. I get that. I hate it, because it makes it so you can see everything when he cooks.
Every spot of dirt, every chipped plate, every stain, and every botched paint mishap is displayed for the entire world to see. I find it interesting that every time I am angry or deeply disappointed, I envision myself taking the broom and shoving it up into the light over and over again like a crazy person trying to churn butter over her head. It makes me feel better.
It’s not too much of a stretch for me to see that it’s not the light that I hate. It is what the light exposes that makes me cringe. It spotlights the parts of my home that I’m trying to hide. The pieces that I’m trying to keep in shadows, so they don’t seem so unsightly. I think we all have things in our home that we want to change, fix, or replace.
The problem is when our fear of those things being seen keeps us from wanting to invite people over. I have learned that it is when we have the courage to be seen, chips and stains included, that we can truly be at rest in our homes. Truly be at rest with others. And truly be at rest with ourselves.
It has taken me a long time to enjoy having people over. In the past there was always so much stress involved in entertaining. For me, it wasn’t enough to just throw a party or make a dinner. My anxiety would kick in and all of the sudden a list of projects would begin growing in my mind that HAD to be done in order for things to be acceptable.
I painted my foyer, garage, and sanded my front door in order to host a friend’s graduation party once. I’ve pressure washed a deck and screened in porch floor for a baby shower that I hosted for another friend.
I know that projects aren’t bad in and of themselves, and it’s nice to have motivation for accomplishing things. But, it’s when the fury and rush of checking off my to do list has no room for being derailed that I have the courage to ask the bigger questions.
What is it about me that I’m so afraid for people to see? What is it that I need to be ‘perfect’ in order to invite people in?
The reason I’m thinking about this is because the other day, I had two different sets of people in my home back to back. One was planned for dinner but the other was spontaneous.
I received a text from one of my best friend’s asking if she and her kids could come over for the afternoon to play. I confess, I did think about how that would throw off my preparations for my dinner guests and how the visit would compound the mess I would need to straighten up with less time afforded to me. So, I did what I always do and asked for a moment to think.
I sat and thought to myself then realized that both sets of people love me. Not only do they love me, but I believe them in their sentiment. Both sets of people have seen me at my worst, under the ‘florescent light’ of life and accept me anyway. I can be at rest with them and myself. It was going to be ok.
Instead of being jittery because there were dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs and dirt all over my kitchen floor, Webkins stuffed animals and silly bands ALL over my living room floor…. oh, and sofa cushions remade into a castle for King Sparky and Queen Blacky (more stuffed animals), I sat at the kitchen table with my friend and caught up on life. We laughed and even talked about deep matters of the heart.
I am so thankful for her as I realized that it was from her that I have really learned what it means to be hospitable. She’s the one who taught me the beauty of inviting people in when life is not perfect. You can go into her house at any time and you will not find it spic and span. But what you will discover is someone who will offer you a drink, ask you to sit down, and will be completely present in the moment of sharing relationship. I never thought that I would have come so far and be able to return the gesture. To her, to others, and to myself.
Hospitality is more about just being kind and inviting than it is having the right table settings and environment in which to entertain. It’s about thinking of others more than you do yourself. And it’s about resting in who you were made to be. I still get panicked when my husband wants to have people over on a whim. I still have my mental check list of what’s ‘acceptable’ for people to see before I say ‘yes.’ But as I grow more at home with myself, the list gets shorter and shorter.