I am not domestic. I think it's safe to say I am not exaggerating about this. My home stays in varying states of mess. I hate to cook. I do it because I have four children, but I despise it. Everything about it. The planning, the shopping, the actual cooking, the cleaning-up afterwards. My home is not beautifully decorated. It's desperately thrown together in an effort to look like adults live here, and not college students. There are a few pictures on the walls. There are even curtains in the kids rooms, but selecting them was painful reminder of where I am lacking. There are photographs everywhere, though. Books and photographs. It's easy to see where my interests do lie.
Oh I've tried, of course. I have made lists and schedules, bought books and subscribed to Internet sites that send me constant email reminders of what I should be doing to keep my home clean, my life organized. But none of it works. If I am forced to be honest, it's just not a high enough priority for me. Except occasionally, when it bothers The Man too much or my disorganization causes me to lose something or miss an appointment. And then I redouble my efforts once again.
It's something I struggle with constantly, this obvious shortcoming in my personality. I joke about it often, in a self-deprecating way. It's a defense mechanism against the nesty types. You know who you are. I come to your home and everything is beautiful. No matter how many children you have, your house is not overrun with toys. It's decorated fabulously and, most importantly, it's immaculate. There are no dishes in your sinks, or rings around your bathtubs. There is never a basket of wrinkled laundry waiting to be folded next to your ottoman (where mine is now). There are no stacks of papers and there is certainly not permanent marker "artwork" on your master bedroom carpet. And don't get me started on the yards. That's a whole other post.
You people intimidate the tar out of me.
And so, I don't entertain. Unless you are related to me, or a friend of many years, you probably have not been to my home for dinner. That' s not surprising really. Someone who's house is generally messy and doesn't like to cook, wouldn't entertain, would they?
But there in lies the problem. My insecurities about my home-making skills, and what they correspondingly must mean about me as a wife and mother, have inadvertently created a wall. It's hard to reach out to people, to create new relationships if you are unwilling to invite them into your home. There is something intimate about breaking-bread with someone. Something that invites confidences and laughter. It shows trust and longing for a deeper connection. And let's face it, we have four children, the days of inviting people to "meet us out for dinner" are long behind us.
I also believe that as a Christian woman, God is calling me to reach out more to others. To show love more, to welcome others into my inner circle, to be a better friend. I believe hospitality is something that God calls us to, as a result of our love for Him. But it's a calling I have been fighting tooth and nail for years. I have been putting it off, until I somehow morph into a better housekeeper, until my home is better decorated, my lawn better maintained. Until I won't be embarrassed for them to see the inside of my fridge. And it's not because I don't want to love others. It's because I am afraid that when they see me for who I really am, see my shortcomings, that they won't love me back.
But, this week I finally did what I said I would do countless times. At Sunday School yesterday I invited a couple, that I had been longing to know better, to my home for dinner. They already live in my neighborhood (and have seen the weeds in the flower bed) and have a baby girl that I am hoping will be a future friend for Clara. So, it seemed like a good place to start. I am challenging myself to do this regularly. And I am challenging myself not to freak out about it and spend the next two weeks in a frantic cleaning, decorating, weeding frenzy. I will make sure my bathroom is clean, I will make sure the kitchen won't scare them. I may even scrub out the fridge (it's been on my list anyway) but I won't pretend to be someone I am not. This is about trying to build real relationships. It's about letting someone in to my inner circle.
And if my inner-circle is a little dusty, well that's okay. Right?