Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
A couple of months ago, someone's facebook status read, "If you want to see me or my family, stop by anytime. If you want to see me and my clean house, please call ahead and make an appointment!" At first I laughed, but then I realized how true that was for me. I have often not invited someone over because of the state of my house. When he had our house on the market this summer, I had to keep it spotless all the time. I was constantly cleaning, picking up toys, and vacuuming every piece of dirt that made it in the door. I enjoyed having a spotless house and was very proud when people came over, but I was exhausted all the time. I was investing a lot of time and energy into this house. However, I still didn't invite people over often because now I wanted to keep it clean!
Earlier this summer, we had a new Korean family move in next door to us. We introduced ourselves quickly one day, but never seemed to find the time to really get to know them. A couple of months later, we ran into them at Target and stopped to talk to them. During the conversation, I invited the wife to stop by anytime and I'd be happy to help her practice her English. Of course, you know how invitations like that go; we make them all the time. "Please, stop by anytime....call me if you need anything...we'll have to get together sometime." Deep down, the offers are genuine, but we seldom expect people to follow up on them. The very next day, however, my doorbell rang and there was my neighbor holding 2 bags with the biggest honeydew melons I've ever seen.
My first reaction was surprise. My second reaction was, oh no, my house is a mess. That morning, my kids and I had made blueberry pancakes and the evidence of that was still all over the kitchen! Nonetheless, I invited her in and we had a great visit. During the visit, she asked for some water (okay, so I'm not the best hostess) and then followed me to the kitchen. When we walked in, I immediately apologized for the mess. My neighbor looked at me and said that she was happy to see my messy kitchen. She said that in Korea people are not as concerned about house appearances as we are here. She said that she and her husband noticed that soon after they arrived. Now, she doesn't like having people over to her house because she is embarrassed about how it looks. Wow!
Since that nice visit, we've had our neighbors over for dinner and we've been to their house. Our kids go back and forth and play together. Sometimes our houses are clean; sometimes they aren't! Through this experience, I've decided to take a hard look at what I invest my time in. I still spend a lot of time cleaning the house, doing laundry, and making sure my family doesn't live in filth (ha ha). However, I now have a better understanding of how important it is to invest in our relationships.
I'm reading a book by Max Lucado called, Outlive Your Life. I found this quote that really made me stop and think:
If we wait until everything is perfect, we'll never issue an invitation. Remember this: what is common to you is a banquet to someone else. You think your house is small, but to the lonely heart, it is a castle. You think the living room is a mess, but to the person whose life is a mess, your house is a sanctuary. You think the meal is simple, but to those who eat alone every night, pork and beans on paper plates tastes like filet mignon. What is small to you is huge to them. Open your table. (58)