Opening Your Home to Fellowship… Despite the Mess

Humbling Hospitality

Good Afternoon Mama (or morning, or middle of the night, or potty break, or whenever you managed to escape your children),

I come to you today from the very edge of my paper-stacked, dirty-cup-collecting, sticky-with-something desk in my crushed-cereal coated living room (seriously, there’s a fine dust of cereal over every piece of furniture and the floor. No clue how or when it happened).  This is my reality every single day and while I sincerely hope and pray that it isn’t yours too, I want to offer some encouragement and acceptance if it is.

When I look around at the 75 pieces of dried out playdough balls littering the floor or at the dirty lunchbox on my entry-way table, it’s hard to imagine how we ever let even a single person in our home without fleeing the country in shame. 

In reality though, we host our small group of 20 people at least once a month.

Don’t be impressed, I’m not here to brag by any means. I’m here to share some of my more refining (read: humbling and embarrassing) moments as a small group host with the hope that you too will feel more comfortable opening up your house even though the small humans you’ve created make it look and smell like a trash-pit.

My Traitorous Sofa

It’s hard to know where to start. Where do I first want to rat myself out to the entire world? I think I’ll go with the time I slaved away for 48 hours before small group trying to make it look like we actually lived in a clean home only to be found out for a fraud five minutes into the night when for some unknown, completely unacceptable reason, someone decided to move my sofa.  Yes, I’ll start there.

So, on that occasion, like I said, I slaved away for 48 hours, ignoring my children the entire time. In 48 hours they easily watched 46 hours of TV and consumed every last grain of sugar in the entire house.

Also, I have no idea about the black bruise that showed up on the little one’s forehead. He didn’t seem dizzy though so I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal.  

By the time people actually showed up to my house I was feeling pretty good.  If it weren’t for the fact that I was profusely sweating from the last minute sweeping, I was confident that they would have no idea that I had spent the last 48 hours scrubbing the black accumulation of grossness from the toddler-hand-height level of every doorway, or that I had finally sorted through a two foot pile of mail, or that it had taken me a full hour to de-sticky our kitchen chairs, or that there was still two weeks of unfolded laundry hiding in my master bedroom closet. 

To say the least, I was feeling good. I was pretty darn proud of myself as I welcomed our small group into our Clorox-reeking home. 

We had all started to gather in my living room, getting ready to sit down and start the discussion when I made my fatal mistake.  Being the super-host that I was, I ran back into the kitchen to grab the appetizer (read: bowl of nuts) I had prepared.

By the time I came back, it had happened. 

For some completely unnecessary reason, some wonderful chap decided they needed to move my sofa back to make room for more chairs. Totally ridiculous, I know! There’s absolutely no reason those pregnant mommas couldn’t have sat their hinnies on my freshly swept floor in the middle of the circle. 

But anyhow, they pushed that sofa back right as I stepped back into the room and four sets of eyes all looked up at me in disbelief as they saw what had been uncovered.  

I exaggerate not a lick when I tell you there was a solid white line of cheerios, crumbs, small toys, hair, and who knows what else extending from one side of the sofa to the next for the full eight inches back that they pushed the sofa. 

Done and Done.  Just like that, my charade was up.  I was found out. Clearly, no clean-ish person could ever have THAT amount of foulness hiding under their sofa. I hung my head, turned back around and retrieved the broom.  

See also: Praying For Your Children From Head To Toe

The Aftermath

Do you know what happened after that humbling moment?  We went on to have a wonderful, life-giving, God-honoring discussion and the fact that my house was perfectly clean everywhere they were supposed to look and filthy everywhere I hoped they wouldn’t didn’t matter at all.  

What mattered was that conversation. 

Having a place for people to sit and learn about Him. A place to encourage each other.  To pray for each other. A place for our kids to play and see their parent’s prioritizing the Lord.

I wish I could tell you that since then I’ve learned how to keep a clean house or even that I’ve learned how to care less about how my home looks and to instead just cherish and value the fellowship and community we build each time we host.  The truth is I haven’t accomplished either of those.  

Yes, We Can Host

What I’ve learned is that my answer is always, “Yes, we can host” even if I know my home won’t be as clean as I want it to be.  I’ve learned my pride in my apparently-clean home is ridiculous and my shame is too. 

I’ve learned to accept and be grateful for the grace I’m given when I leave the plunger in the toilet, or when somehow there’s no toilet paper, soap, or hand towels in the bathroom.  To hand over a cleaning rag with only a little embarrassment when someone finds another sticky syrup spot on my kitchen chairs.

It gets easier.

It’s always worth it. 

Yes, say yes.

So momma, let’s walk in obedience, say “yes” even when your home smells like the inside of a Diaper Genie and looks more like a “Pinterest-Fail” than an Instagram influencer’s post.  Let’s open our hearts to receive grace, to give it, and to live in community with our fellow believers.

“And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.  Not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:25

Get connected!

We want you to join the Christ-Centered Mamas Facebook group! Come and ask questions and be encouraged by other Christian moms. It was mainly this group that sourced the ideas for the Dwell Journal, so it’s a valuable and beautiful community to me, and to the other moms in the group!
– Sarah Hardee

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