Who is coming to dinner? Part One

It’s later in the day, the phone rings – it’s your hubby.  He and the Boy Scouts, who have been out camping for the last 4 days, are headed home. They have had a horrid time. It’s been cold, it’s been wet and their food was eaten by a bear.  They miss their families and are in need of some serious Momma Care.  He’s bringing 5 Boy Scouts over to eat at your table and be ministered to by your family in less than 1 hour. Do you take time to spaz over your dirty dishes?  your dirty toilet?  the toys on the floor of the living room?  No.  Your heart is focused on getting some food into those boys and ministering warmth and love, yes?

How about this one – it’s later in the day, the phone rings – it’s your hubby.  The regional manager is in town, along with 2 sales reps.  They have had a horrid trip.  Their plane was stranded in Denver for the snow storm, they’re tired, they’re longing for a good meal and they just miss their families.  Your husband invites them back to your house, to receive ministry from your family.  Are you spazzing about your dirty dishes?  dirty toilet? toys on the living room floor?  Like as not, you said “Yes! DUH! HELLO DAWN, ANYBODY IN THERE??!!!”

WHY?  Why does one situation make us nauseous and the other just make us smile?  Why can we pull out canned pork and beans and throw some hot dogs into them, serve some raw carrots and maybe, if we have time to whip them up, some cookies for the boys and yet, we will nigh on kill ourselves to perform for the manager and sales reps?

I fear that “perform” is a part of the equation – at least it is in my heart.  I would want the adults coming to our home to see how well I’m doing. I would want them to think that Jeff was a richly blessed man and that his wife could cook, sew and leap small buildings in a single bound.  I would want them to think that I had it all together, so together, in fact, it was tied with a shiny ribbon and had some really cool tissue paper sticking out of the top.  🙄

If any of the people that were coming was a woman, the problem went from serious to crisis in less than 10 seconds.  There would be NO way that I would want her to see through me and suddenly it would no longer be a matter of ministering to her/them, it would be an issue of competition, almost.  Am I the only one like this?  (You may feel free to say “Yes.”  I know this is an area of sin in my life.  It is familial and I have seen this one in action for most of my life.)

If you were to ask me why I’m putting myself through contortions to make the evening stellar for the business associates, I would tell you my perfectionism was coming out.  So, is it safe to say that a sure fire (and quick) way to see if our desire to do all things well, to the glory of God, has now slipped into idolatrous perfectionism is to check to see who holds the focus of my heart – me or my guests?  Maybe.  Although, I will tell you, I have perfected this sufficiently that I can convince myself I’m doing all that I’m doing so that my guests will feel special…. so how can I really, really recognize the sinful heart attitude that tends to go along with perfectionism?

I have an idea I’d like to offer, but I’ll save it until tomorrow.  I’ve gotta go clean my house, just in case somebody drops by today.  😉

(Please understand this is all a part of my processing – feel free to disagree with me or simply offer an alternative point of view.  I want to grow in my understanding of this divisive sin in my life.)

10 Responses to “Who is coming to dinner? Part One”
  1. Melanie says:

    Oh, Dawn,

    You have to know that I am so “there” with you! If I am in a frenzied house-cleaning mode, you know it’s either PMS or “someone’s coming”. And of course, the bright dc KNOW this (and flee!)

    And to make it worse, I remember being really unimpressed (read, bitter) with my own mom when we had to ready the house for her certain secret ladies’ group meeting (who of course, boasted of great love for family). It reeked of hypocrisy. (maybe I was/am just selfish and lazy?)

    And I’m afraid it’s a human condition easily “learned” and practiced, but not easily overcome [why, Lord, couldn’t it be INSTANT sanctification?? ;-)]

    It’s a scary thought — how much I am like my mom in faults — and how much my own dd’s can emulate us at an early age!

    okay — it must be time to serve them some breakfast instead of yakking on the computer {“That’s how Mom talks to people when she’s not on the phone.” ouch, busted!}

    Keep at it/us, Dawn!
    Oh, here’s yet another scenario: serving a bachelor brother-in-law a five-course meal, which includes poppy-seed torte (maybe this week anyway). [not the usual supper-fare here! and obviously precludes what else I might spend my time on…]
    my point: my DH “deserves” a little more red-carpet treatment, too! …or maybe they both need a happy “balance” between the normal minimum and the special buffet??

    ack! “With man, nothing is possible” Help me, Lord!

  2. Margie says:

    How about this? Our homes are a reflection of who we are. Is is pride or perfectionism that makes us want to put our best foot forward? Or we just wanting to present the best of what God has blessed us with?

    I am thinking that if perfectionism prevents us from following the command to practice hospitality then it has crossed the line to “sin.”

    If our perfectionism is contrary to Philippians 2:3 & 4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look our for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” then it is sin. I might add that to me “others” includes my family. I need to be willing to do for my family what I would do for the Boy Scouts or the Sales Manager.

    I think the heart attitude behind the action is what counts. If the panic over the Sales Manager is motivated by wanting to make our husbands look good rather than making ourselves look like the good wife then I think we are just fulfilling the role model of the Proverbs 31 woman.

    Those are just some of my thoughts and I offer no guarantee that they are accurate, profound, or even clear — I have not had my second cup of coffee yet 🙂

  3. winkies6 says:

    I have been trying to keep my home in somewhat of a clean state. I did not try AS hard in the last home, I will admit.

    I like to think if someone just stopped by, it would be presentable. Whether it be hubby’s boss/coworker or one of the kids’ friends.

    Far from perfect, but a little picked up? I am a messie, I know it. Hubby is a messie and he knows it (and boy, do I know that!). I’m trying to help my kids be able to have fun and play but then keep things clean so they don’t lose things or break them, etc.

    I do fight with the want of perfectionism, tho….

  4. Lynn says:

    Well my toes are a little sore after reading that. And you are so right, Melanie… DH deserves that treatment, also. He would be thrilled if I just had the kitchen counter cleared let alone have the children do a quick pick-up before he walks through the door.

    DH and I look at it from different perspectives, though. He grew up in a family of 13 children, mind you, where everything was picked up and in it’s place most of the time. I grew up in a family of 2 children, where you had to kick a path through the stuff on the floor to get through. So by my childhood standards I’m doing quite well but I need to look at my home through DH’s eyes more often and make it a haven for him.

  5. OUCH, shug! You are so right about there being compitition involved when it’s another woman coming over. My house has never been as clean as it was the week my new girlfriend from church (whom I perceived to be the ultimate homemaker) said she’d drop by sometime to deliver some Sunday School material. Our relationship might have never gotten past that point had she not invited me over one afternoon on her laundry day:) We had to move piles of clothes off the kitchen table:)
    I have a real problem with wanting everyone to think I’m so together. I say it’s because I want to be a good witness…you know, even though I have all. these. kids. 🙂 But it’s really simply wanting to impress, wanting to out do.
    So thank you for steping on my toes today – actually my whole foot is pretty sore! I need this:)

  6. Sarah says:

    I’m laughing out loud at “feel free to disagree”!

    It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to be online, and the Lord knew EXACTLY what to say to me now that I’ve returned! Dawn, I love, love, LOVE that you’re processing through this — and thanks for sharing it with all of us as you do. Not to write a novel, but to tell you how PERFECTLY timed your thoughts are from here — I’ve been in and out of town for several weeks now. Don’t know about anyone else, but there’s nothing like a revolving front door to wreak havoc on my house (our home stays in tact, despite stubbed toes and missing pj’s). My best friend just called me two days ago to tell me that her husband is being called back to Georgia. We are THRILLED because they’re moving in with us tomorrow!!! Here’s the kicker — yes, I’ve been scurrying to restore order, but with NO painful drive. It’s been great! Why? Because these are people I dearly love and who dearly love us — they don’t care what the house looks like and I don’t care what they see. I’m preparing for them and it’s a PLEASURE to clean up, rearrange, and beautify; I’m thinking in terms of “oh, this will be fun for the Little Ones!” and “this will make her smile!” HOWEVER, let even one person my sweet hubby works with offer to come pick up/drop off/come by/land on/you name it, and I’m off in a running panic (and a bad attitude… like, really bad attitude). So why is that???? I’ve been asking myself that question for 48 hours now, and then up pops your post! Thanks for sharing your journey; I look forward to the next installment!

  7. DawnP says:

    I agree it’s definitely all about our motives in any given situation – sometimes they’re right in line with what they should be, and other times they’re not. I asked my DH exactly what HE likes to see when he walks through the door in the evening and we try to just enjoy getting it that way to serve him with love. “Clean up for Daddy time” is what we call it. (He has also made it very clear that me SMILING, not stressing myself out, is the most important thing he wants to see! ) Yes, Margie, Phil.2:3,4 was exactly the verse I was thinking about too!!

    I also think we need to also be careful where we get our ideas about “hospitality ” and homekeeping from – the world or the Word? “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great feasting and trouble therewith”. I don’t know, just my thoughts…..Dawn, thank you for your labors!!

  8. MicheleinNZ says:

    Perhaps I’m coming from this at a different angle, but I see the work colleagues coming over being totally different then some boy scouts. Work colleagues may or may not be Christians, which means they may or may not extend the grace that I would hope brothers in Christ would, understanding that a mother with 7 children doesn’t always have a perfect home 🙂 Also, I wouldn’t want my husband’s reputation at work to be affected because of a totally disastrous house, unless he told them in advance that hey, the kids have all been sick/we got burgled/etc before they arrived.
    Having said that, I also strive to make sure that the state of my house doesn’t affect my willingness to have people over. But knowing that I’m more comfortable when things are tidy, I try to keep it that way, succeeding only a portion of the time.
    In the end, I’ve discovered, after discussing it with my husband, that I have much higher expectations of myself and our home than he or anyone else does. After all, if they’re friends, they’re coming to see us, not our dirt.

  9. valerie says:

    I came from a perfectionist home…my mother used to wash the floor every.single.day… she doesn’t do that any more, lol! It is definately a cultural thing for us – the South African thing – and we always had people to help over there and my mother wanted to maintain the same standards here, but she has relaxed a LOT over the years.

    I think there is the element of being embarrassed about mess, but for, at least a small part of it stems from the desire to really bless the person coming over, make it nice for them, know what I mean? I wish my house was ‘visitor ready every day’, but it ain’t! Just looking around at the piles of papers plopped around the place, lol!

    It’s funny, but I really don’t mind visiting friends who have mess, (and I’m talking MESS, with some of them!) because that, too, tells me that they are comfortable enough with me that they don’t mind what I see.

    The company executives are a completely different story though……


  10. Melanie says:

    Lynn, I’d like your mom-in-law to come train me how to get it all in it’s place and keep it there! 😮
    [maybe she didn’t homeschool? can I blame our mess on that?]
    Fact: we have TOO MUCH STUFF.

    Any old Elizabeth Elliot listeners?? Remember the song someone sent in to her… {think 3 blind mice}
    “Too much stuff, too much stuff
    More than enough, more than enough…”
    — and then it was something about it all falling out of the closet when you open the door — I can’t remember those words, but the meaning is still there!

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