I heaved a heavy sigh.
A quick glance around the living room showed that children had been here.
Books stacked haphazardly on the shelves and side table, papers peeping from under the couch, toys strewn – life had here been lived.
A move into the kitchen didn’t help.
Smears on the fridge and stovetop.
So much to do. And it’s not just that it needed to be done.
The real discouragement was that even if I did do it, it’d all return to this state again within 24 hours.
You know why?
We actually live in this house – all 7 of us – all day every day.
That’s why the house would return to a used state so quickly. But why was that discouraging?
My goals were discouraging me, not the state of the house.
Change the goal to hospitality.
I wanted to cry, or stamp my foot, or vent in a nagging rampage that day because my goals were being frustrated. Therefore, I was frustrated.
I was working toward something, and my work was undone at every turn.
What was my work?
I was working to have a clean house. I wanted shelves to be tidy, floors to be shiny, counters to be clear. My goal was an end state that I could never attain.
My goal needed to change.
I wanted a clean home so that my home would reflect well on me, so that I could relax and not see more work, so that I could enjoy the finished product I had achieved.
My goal was self-centered. It was good of God to keep it frustrated, because flattered pride gets even uglier than frustrated pride.
I had to lose the pride, not the work. I had to change the goal to be about others and not about myself.
Only when I took the role of a servant rather than as a dictatorial lord could I begin to see satisfaction and fulfillment in the work in front of me rather than continual failing.
Hospitality is the purpose of the home.
Pursue hospitality. It’s a command. It’s a duty. But it doesn’t mean that we all need to be having people over for dinner every week.
Well, except for our people – we feed them every day, every week – three times a day, even. That’s hospitality, too.
The goal of hospitality means that we see our homes as tools in the formation of people, not as trophies to be kept beautiful.
As G.K. Chesterton reminds us:
The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the body and soul of humanity.
As homemakers, we’re making hospitable homes, homes that shape the bodies and souls of humanity.
Those souls’ bodies might have been shaped in our wombs or not. Those bodies might sleep between sheets we wash or not. But our goal is that all the bodies and souls under our roof for years or for hours be shaped for good by the time spent in our homes.
That’s our business.
Our home is for the service of building up people.
If those people make a mess – a physical mess, an emotional mess, any mess – it’s not frustrating our goal or ruining our home. It’s giving us the opportunity to use our home for its vey purpose: mending, serving, building.
Hospitality isn’t something we do once the house is clean and we have everything together. Hospitality is loving others in and with our homes; and love is the whole point.
Hospitality is building up people, and that’s our mission, whether we started from the moment of their birth or we only just learned their name.
Let all things be done for building up. – I Corinthians 14:26
With hospitality as a goal instead of a garnish and our homes as tools instead of trophies, we can see the evidences of people being built up in our homes as successes rather than frustrations.
Yes, it means more work, but that’s what we’re put here for. The work is good.
Let’s dig in.