Recently, the women of my writer's group had a discussion about how we divide chores in our households. We are all married with children, some of us even have toddlers. As our talk turned to cleanliness and clutter, I'll admit I felt relief that I'm not the only writer and parent who takes less-than-stellar care of her home. I mean, I try. But anyone who has young children understands that cleaning your house means you aren't getting other things done like writing, reading, or work of any kind that feeds your spirit. So we must make choices. When you come to my house in the middle of the day, you might see what choices I've made.
Except for one hour after I've cleaned it on Saturday, my house generally looks like a giant picked it up, shook it like a snowglobe, and dropped it back into place.
Living in intentional community means my family and I not only have other community members that drop in at unexpected times, but we also have a number of guests who come. But I'm learning to be okay with the fact that my neighbors and guests know my kitchen will usually be full of dirty dishes, all the tiny pieces of my kid's toys will be arranged into an obstacle course designed to test the pain limits of bottoms of a parent's feet, my five loads of laundry will all be piled on the floor (and bed) of the guest room, and the bathroom odor will indicate that the time to change the trashcan full of diapers is long overdue.
It's not that I don't clean my house for dinner guests or when someone comes to stay. But I am leaning into the wisdom that hospitality means we allow others to see us as we truly are: terribly messy.
When I allow others to see my real messes, many times, they feel they have permission to be real themselves.
We are all a bit off, really.
But isn't it a relief to admit? And isn't this where God finds us and heals us, not in our spotless kitchens but with old pieces of food still stuck on, a bit odorous, a bit hard on the feet.
As I write this now, half of the books from the shelves are on the floor or under my dog on the couch. And you know what, I'm okay with that. I am hoping that if someone walks into my house today, they will feel a lot better about themselves. And that will make my living in squalor all worth it.