My house is not Pinteresting.
I’ve never made a pennant banner, and I don’t own spray paint or Mod Podge. Seriously, did God know about Pinterest when He told us to love our neighbor? Didn’t He know we’d break out in a cold sweat at the thought of creating the perfect centerpiece and folding our napkins like swans?
I feel pressure to be impeccable before I can be sociable.
As a woman, wife, and mother, I know how important our homes are. It might be old-fashioned, but I still think of myself as the keeper of my house—and I do want it to be nice. I have to be careful that my desire for “nice” doesn’t clash with Christ’s command to love our neighbor. It’s tempting to compare my lived-in house to touched-up, professionally-staged rooms that are Photoshopped more than a swimsuit cover model.
When my husband and I were moving cross country, we had a hard time finding a house. I was living in South Carolina with a toddler and a dog, trying to sell one house, while David worked in Ohio and tried to find us a new one. He called one day with a prospect. When I asked him to describe it (this was way back in the days before smart phones and real estate websites), he replied, “It’s really ugly.” When I asked him to tell me something good about it, he said, “It’s really big.”
You know what that house was? A whole lotta ugly. It was dreadfully ugly, it was dated and dingy and dark. I could barely sign the contract through my tears! Over the years we’ve transformed it into a lovely home physically . . . but the real remodeling was in my own heart, spiritually, as God broke my heart for my neighbors.
God cares more about what kind of neighbor I am than what kind of house I live in. This is the difference between entertaining, which makes me look good, and hospitality, which makes my guest feel good.
Entertaining makes me look good. Hospitality makes my guests feel good.
Instead of pinning a plethora of intimidating projects, here’s a tip the next time you’re welcoming guests into your home: a day or two before, look at the room you’ll be using at the same time of day as your get together. See where the sun shines on potential problem areas, then clean that one room one time. (An added bonus of candlelit evening gatherings is that dust looks like a hipster Instagram effect!) Do the dishes, stash magazines under the couch, make it as presentable as you can—but don’t freak out. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to be a good steward of the most expensive gifts God typically gives, your home.
Then pray. Spend more time praying than pinning. Pray for the birth of new friendships. Pray for opportunities to show grace. Pray for God’s love to be a beacon in your home. Pray for a patient and welcoming spirit.
Look at your home with your heart instead of your eyes. Chances are, our neighbors’ homes are similar to ours in size, shape, age, condition and value. They won’t be shocked at the condition of your home when they arrive, but they will be forever touched by the condition of their hearts when they leave.