Sunday, November 10, 2013

Housework vs. Hospitality

I am people person.  Yes sometimes I need peace and total quiet but those who really know me best know I thrive on relationship and being around/with people.  I love having guests and enjoy being spontaneous.  However my life has changed quite drastically over the past 8 years.  I have never been that spotless housekeeper who washes her walls, wood work and windows religiously every spring and fall but during our 8 years of married life and keeping my own house prior to babies the way I kept house was dramatically different from the home we live in now. Stuff stayed put and mostly clean and in order.  While I am thankful in deep ways for the 4 beautiful ones who leave wet dirty underware in the clean towel cupboard and color to big a spot of their favorite color front and center on the living room wall (sorry bout that Phil & Bert) or leave cracker crumbs under the couch,  it HAS drastically changed the way we invite guests into our humble abode.  One time recently I was brave enough to invite last minute guests for Sunday lunch.  While part of the group was gracious about the sticky marks on the chairs, one dear soul, with disdain written across her face, came and got my dish cloth to clean the salt and pepper shakers.  I know she was probably trying to help but it was so very humiliating not to mention embarrassing.  Needless to say, I was slightly paranoid about the rest of the meal and extra nervous about how the kids behaved.  We survived and often as I think back to the event I pondered what God might be trying to teach me and how He actually looks at this whole cleanliness thing.  As I looked thru the Bible for the cleanliness is next to Godliness verse, which by the way isn't there, I came across the story of Martha and her sister Mary.  Jesus comes to visit and Mary leaves the fuss and bustle and goes to sit at his feet (Hello--RELATIONSHIP!) while dear precious Martha keeps hurrying around with housekeeping details.  Finally she goes to bug Jesus about that Mary not helping her. Jesus turns to her and says "Mary as chosen the good portion"...
 As I browsed further, the headings of cleanliness took me mostly to verses about being clean and pure spiritually.  How freeing!  Yes I believe God is a God of order and He asks us to be wise stewards of what He shares with us.  Hospitality is however commanded various times in scripture such as 1 Peter 4:9 where it says, "Show hospitality one to another with out grumbling"  How simple is that?  I freely admit that I am the worst at grumbling about getting ready for guests. I grumble at my children in the process and get down right irritable at hubby if his ambition doesn't match my own and honestly sometimes that is why spontaneous guests is sometimes actually better.  How can I as a busy mother chose the "good portion" over the ever enslaving housework which by the way will always be here?  I really wonder sometimes if our busyness in this era of gadgets that are supposed to simplify our lives is one of the reasons we see so much loneliness and depression in the world around us and even in the church?  How about we change our thought process around about what's important and invite each other over even if we just serve popcorn and juice and step on cookie crumbs that have been left in strategic piles under the table?  (Or not serve any food as most of us are trying to lose weight anyhow)  God was truly genius in creating communities of people which He put together to form meaningful and challenging relationships and I am sure He is mortified that we are to consumed with cleanliness to take advantage of this beautiful gift. 

So come on over, I'll roll out the paper plates (oops just used the last of those for lunch) napkins and my hazy cups (which are not all sparkly due to a dishwasher detergent error) and we'll look around at our abundant blessings while we munch apples from my large stash and maybe even a leftover pumpkin bar or two.

**DISCLAIMER:  just in case you're wondering, my spontaneous-do-it-quickly nature is the reason there are white lines on this page...I.can.not.make.them.go.away but I am hitting publish anyway ;)