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On Being Relaxed about having People Over

Living in a very affluent community (and Nation), our homes are beautiful… or we feel they must be. We view our homes as an extension of ourselves… if they are messy or unfinished it’s a bad reaction of who we are right?  Having friends over can be a nerve-wracking event, one that takes our entire week to plan and prepare for!

Picture this: ‘The house must be cleaned to perfection, candle burning in the bathroom, soft music playing,  table set like a catalog picture. The food should be our very best recipes, something new maybe. And the children! The Children should be clean and quiet ( maybe they can just watch a movie so the grown ups can talk?). But don’t forget yourself – the ‘Hostess with the Most-ess’- calm and socially engaging. Able to miraculously cook, corral the children, keep the conversations interesting but not ‘political’ and kiss your husband and the end of the evening. ‘

As I’m sure we have all experienced… this is not reality. But this dream of the perfect dinner party is enough to keep many of us from opening our homes and ‘breaking bread’ with our friends and neighbors.We feel we don’t have enough money to cook something that  will impress, or are embarrassed of our simple homes.

If we can remove the expectation of movie-like perfection from ourselves… and just open our lives and homes to those around us… we will begin to see the Lord work beautiful things. 

( photo by Melanie Siegrist)

Now, I do believe our homes should be creative expressions of who we are. A clean and comfortable place our friends and family can relax in. For many of us our homes are small duplexes or  apartments , decorated with pieces gathered from thrift stores or repurposed from garage sales. Not the Pottery Barn store downtown. Celebrate making your home the best that YOU can make it!

But when we stop reaching because we are afraid our lives, homes and families don’t measure up WE BECOME ISOLATED. And we stop the flow of blessing, encouragement and encounter with Jesus that the Lord desires to bring through us to others.

My friend Danielle modeled hospitality beautifully when she had us for dinner this week. Her home was cosy and tidy with a candle burning and a few of the days toddler toys still out in the living room. She served us leftovers from a Thanksgiving feast she has been test-cooking for her next cookbook. We happily ate as the children played around us, and she was especially gracious when our potty-training 3 year old had an accident in one of the dress up outfits! We hung out as the dishes were done and left with sleepy eyes and happy hearts. Our souls had been fed because we connected with friends.

(photo by Danielle Walker)

I have lived most of my life in total slavery to my reputation,  trying to control how others perceive my children, my husband, and me.  It drove me to a life filled with anxiety, comparison, fear and worry.

So, as a recovering control-freak and perfectionist, here’s how I have people for dinner:

~ Invite someone we love and want time with, or someone we like at first impressions and would like to get to know more!

~I DO make sure the house is clean… but if it gets messed up while I’m cooking dinner I don’t cry too much.

~ I make something I really enjoy cooking, so when I serve it I’m excited for my friends to try it! Sometimes I even just pick up a rotisserie chicken and make a salad to go with it, yummy, healthy and gives me time to hang out with my guests.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… Let go of perfectionism and enjoy the relationships that will begin to flourish around your table!

( photo by Jake Mason – click to enlarge)

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