When I think of hosting in our home, the first thing that comes to mind is all the cleaning I’ll have to do.  Sometimes it’s hard to get beyond that issue, so that I just end up dropping the idea of having people over.  How can I change my attitude about cleaning so that it doesn’t hinder hospitality in our house?

Last week we had friends over for a dinner, and I didn’t clean my house!  It was an internal war inside - do I vacuum, dust and clean - or just let it go?

I’ll admit it.  Sometimes I can be pretty lazy when it comes to deep-cleaning my house. A quick pick-up is definitely easier and quicker!

But what will my guests think?

Will they even notice?

Perfectionism

Recently a friend shared her struggles with me, admitting that her house having to be perfect was the main reason she hadn’t had anyone over in months. It’s a shame, too, because she has a cute apartment within walking distance of her church.

She’s afraid to have people over because most of her friends are neat-freaks, and she’s afraid her place won’t meet their standards.

Prioritize

When it comes to hospitality, we often lose our focus as life gets hurried and complicated. We dash around doing things that really don’t matter (like cleaning the house before the guests arrive!), and then our perspective shifts. We get so caught up in our present circumstances, trying to make things so perfect, that we can’t see beyond our difficulties.

Over the years I’ve learned to ask myself this:  Would I rather continue on with what had already been a peaceful day - or kick it up a notch, running around crazily trying to make everything look just right?  I won’t even mention what kind of mood that puts the whole family in.

I’ve learned to prioritize what the important aspects of entertaining are (obviously getting the food on the table in a timely manner), and I’ve decided that a happy family and a relaxed hostess are way more important to me than having things perfect.

Perspective

We had such a great time with our guests, but it’s so easy to get our perspective out of balance. At one point I found myself looking down at the un-vacuumed carpet. For a split second I was embarrassed. Then I looked up into the faces of those around our table and my perspective shifted back into place.

It’s not about the crumbs on the floor or the disorganized piles around the house.  It’s not even that I am lazy when it comes to house cleaning. I definitely don’t fall into the mold of being a neat freak!  I just tend to have a very busy, hectic schedule at times and I’m trying to prioritize what really matters.

I’d rather keep strong friendships going than give them up for a clean house.

Does your house have to be perfectly clean before you’ll invite others in?

Posted May 28, 2009

©2009, Sandy Coughlin

Sandy Coughlin is a wife and mother of 3. She loves her family and loves blessing other people's lives by entertaining in her home. Sandy’s husband, Paul, (who used to be the reluctant entertainer) has come on board, and they often offer hospitality together. Sandy and Paul co-authored a book called Married but Not Engaged(Bethany House, Aug. 2006). It's written to women who are married to "checked out" or emotionally absent men and who want to create a more satisfying, intimate relationship. This article was adapted from Sandy’s regularly updated blog “4 Reluctant Entertainers,” which you can visit at www.reluctantentertainer.com. Get more information on Married but Not Engaged by clicking here. Visit Paul's website at: http://www.paulcoughlin.net/