Would you agree
that in visiting someone’s home
you are able to see
the real person?
Through the years, I’ve known people that I considered friends, but it was when I visited their home that I felt like I really knew who they were. I can remember visiting one friend’s home back about thirteen or fourteen years ago. I thought she had it all together … and then I went to her home and I changed my mind. Her home a.p.p.e.a.r.e.d to be somewhat disheveled. The sight of her home blew my preconceived notion about her out of the water.
But, Debra is a collector and a crafter so she has always had a lot of “stuff.” After visiting her warm, inviting home repeatedly, my stiff, judgmental heart came to realize … that my FIRST impression was correct. Not only did she have it all together, she knew where it all was and she was wonderfully comfortable in her skin. She invited me in time after time …. even when I dropped by on the spur of the moment. She would sweep away the peanut butter and jelly sandwich crumbs from her homeschooled family’s lunch a few hours earlier and offer me a piece of warm pound cake and a cup of tea or some fresh pumpkin bread and coffee. When I left, she often had given me a gift … a book, a candle or some scrapbooking treat. But, more than that, she gave me the gift of seeing hospitality that was strong, authentic and gracious. She always made me feel welcome and c.o.m.f.o.r.t.a.b.l.e. My heart was always warmer, my life richer from entering into her sprawling, delightful home. In the two years I lived near her, she taught me more about being a gracious hostess than any other friend I’ve ever known. She taught me to stop what I am doing, brush the little messes out-of-the-way and sit down with a visitor and just … be myself.
And I’ve learned to do that. I’ve had many friends into my home this year. It’s been a won.der.ful year for fellowship. I’ve even been able to share with many of my visitors what a BIG deal it was that they were coming in and there was a little puppy-dog-hair dust bunny beside the dog bed … and I was okay with that. I didn’t cancel our engagement just because I hadn’t finished painting a room. I didn’t decide to make up some excuse to keep them away even though I was in the middle of culling a bookshelf. I let people in even though they would see the real me … which is a mess, on lots of levels.
With the upheaval that has been my home over the last month, my home remains in chaos. And honestly, last week when a friend ever-so-gently asked, “Karen, without risking hurting your feelings, may I ask what is taking you so long to get your house in order?” *stab to the heart* I almost cried. I’ve taken twenty years of homeschooling books and games along with a room full of crafting supplies and dumped them into my den. I’ve forced my man/child to pack up his junk and move it into a room half the size of his previous room with a closet that is probably only 1/6 of the size of his previous closet. And I’ve tried to systematically save the good, important and sentimental and let go of the unneeded clutter. I have had to paint a room that has not been painted in six years … and has been lived in by a b.o.y. All this while r.e.g.u.l.a.r life continues to happen … kids need to eat, dishes and clothes require washing, carpooling and errands have to be handled. Need I say more?
I invited Stone to bring his son over for a visit soon. I chose a date that included a few things that I knew would interest them, including a scheduled bike ride and an awesome concert. He checked his calendar and thought that the weekend would work well. So, we penciled the date into our calendars.
When I told Glory about the weekend, she said … hesitantly … “Mom. You … do … realize … that … October 8th is … THIS weekend …. right?”
My month-long goal has been to cull the stuff in my life and get everything organized and ready to sell at this past Saturday’s neighborhood yardsale. That goal came and went. I have made one huge van-load donation to Goodwill. I decided that it would be better to release the stuff for a tax-deductible donation than to keep it all and try to sell everything for a quarter a piece at a later date. But, I’m still culling, moving, cleaning, purging.
But, honestly, with the weekend looming and the mess not melting away quickly enough, I have found myself hitting panic-mode.
Yesterday afternoon, I went into Glory’s room to get a “breathe”-talk. I poured myself out before her and she gave me a stern talk. “Mom, if Stone doesn’t like the person that he sees in you here at our home, he’s crazy. You need to calm down and just be yourself. Breathe, Mom …. and getaholdofyourself.”
*scratches head and wonders …. “where is that necklace?????”
So, I headed back into the mess with new determination and I began to think about her words.
She’s such a wise young lady. And she’s right!
I know these things.
And then it hit me ….
this has absolutely.nothing.to.do.with.Stone.
This is a trained reaction.
This “I’ve got to do this perfect” attitude is a learned way of living.
I think of women who have been raped or abused. I think of women who have been consistently told they are ugly, stupid, clutzy, useless, slutty, worthless ….. How do they recover? How long does it take? Because what I have been through is trivial in comparison to their tragedies … and yet, I live handicapped.
But, I have done the hard thing: I have at least R.E.A.L.I.Z.E.D
that the thoughts I have been conditioned to believe are the truth
are actually incorrect. They are lies.
The truth is
I don’t have to be “perfect” – whatever THAT looks like.
I just need to be myself.
I am a wonderful person. I don’t mean that in a conceited way. I mean that I love myself and I have a great deal to offer any friendship that comes into my life – male or female. I am gracious, kind, forgiving, creative, loving and energetic. I am strong, sensuous, tactile, and ever-so-slightly musical. I am balanced, young-at-heart, open, honest to a fault and exponentially passionate. I have a heart to please God over man and I welcome and embrace rebuke and correction as best I am able.
I say these things
knowing that I am also full of fault and flaw and deficit,
I am one step closer to being whole
because I’ve recognized one more stronghold in life
that I have unnecessarily allowed to rule and rock my world.
So, I will continue to work on my mess of a house this week
(expecting to take at least 300+ books to 2nd and Charles by tomorrow
and make several more trips to Goodwill)
but I will focus on the task at hand
(culling, cleaning, organizing)
rather than the thoughts that have been distracting me
(Will I be good enough?)
Because I want Stone and Jet to visit and see the “real” me ….
and my “real” family … warts and all …
I simply want to welcome them into our home
and I want them to be comfortable.