Imperfect Hospitality


A few months ago, I wrote about a dream I had to make my guest room a haven for weary mom-friends.  Or friends sans kids.  Or single friends.  Basically, a spot for anyone I knew who needed a place to get away.

I’d treat it as a kind of B&B, taking care of them and providing snacks and breakfast.  It would fulfill my desire to have regular guests and (hopefully) bless someone who might not take a retreat otherwise.

I didn’t have much of a budget to work with, so the plan was to just use stuff I already had to spruce up the space a bit.  After a grand start, ADD took over and I got caught up in other house projects.

Then everyone kept getting sick and I didn’t have extra time or energy for much.

And then cats starting being naughty.  Real naughty.

I wanted the space to be cozy and comfortable, with space to relax, read, and/or work.  A desk or table seemed necessary but I couldn’t find one that fit the space and my limited budget.

And so the weeks turned into months and I didn’t host any guests.

Until a dear friend sounded desperate to get away.  I thought of the unfinished, not-yet-super-cute room, the lack of workspace, and the unstable cats. Surely I couldn’t invite her to stay just yet.


Well, I did.

That lamp shade is crying out for...something. And the side-table-box needs some messing with.
That lamp shade is crying out for…something. And the side-table-box needs some messing with.

“Imperfect” Hospitality

We were going out of town, so she’d have the whole place to herself.  She jumped on it.

I was scrambling to pack for our trip, so I didn’t have time to cook her something quality for breakfast.  I made cookies but then Hubs mistakenly thought they were for him.  And I was terrified that the cats would do something awful.

When she later texted me to ask where to find carpet cleaner, I about fell over.

It was not my ideal hospitality scenario.  Clearly.

But you know what? I think she was blessed in spite of the imperfection of it all.

Which was a fantastic reminder for me: I don’t need to wait until my home is perfect to invite people in.

Really, I don’t need to wait until my home is even moderately presentable.

If true hospitality is simply opening our homes–and lives–to others, I can do that without finished curtains, all the furniture I think I need, awesome snacks, or well-behaved animals.  And that’s not what (most) other people care about anyway.

While I generally want my home to be cozy, inviting, and relatively clean, I don’t want imperfections to hinder sharing my home.

(For another great reminder of this: The Nester’s guest room post).

Do fears or imperfections prevent you from opening your home to others?


About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • I was just closing my computer when this post popped into my inbox. How timely! I had just gotten to a place where I felt more confident about letting people see the imperfect when one small phone call from my mum sent me unravelling! Thank you for reminding me of the true meaning and to not crumble to the pressure of perfection. God has used your words to nestle in my heart.

    • So glad it was an encouragement to you!! I will forever tell myself that if someone can be blessed by hospitality that involved pet issues, I shouldn’t worry about my house looking perfect :).

  • Christy

    My dear friend… I spent a night in that guest room of yours for a few days and it was perfect and wonderful ! It was even before you had that lamp! 🙂 (Though i think I may have snuggled with a kitty to sleep… thankfully didn’t need carpet cleaner 😉 ) Keep opening that house of yours. It’s great!

  • Melissa Smith

    Such a good and true reminder.

  • brenda venable

    We need a blog about the well-behaved kitties now, what is there current situation?

  • Tiare

    We’ve been living in our house for almost six years and I still feel the need to have everything “perfect” before inviting too many guests over. Of course, we have family and very close friends over and hope they don’t judge our mess.

    But our friends seem better at this than our family is, and we’ve had to remind our family several times that this is our house and we choose to live in the environment we want to live in. Truthfully, our message seems to fall on deaf ears.

    Still, this post was a reminder to not get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. What’s perfect for us might not be perfect for someone else, and that’s perfectly fine.

    • I constantly need the reminder not to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection! 🙂

      Thanks so much for dropping a note, Tiare!

  • Oh, goodness, I can completely relate to this. We don’t even have a guest room to put people in (though I dream of that for all the reasons you said), I feel apologetic for our air mattress in the living room but then I remind myself that people are coming to see us not our home. And I personally feel more at home in imperfect surroundings. 😉 One of my favourite, fun overnights was when we slept in a kids’ room on their double bunk. They slept elsewhere and we slept amidst lego and stuffed teddies, it was great. =)

    • Love the bunks! I know–I have fond memories of less-than-perfect hospitality scenarios too. Which is so good to remind myself when I’m freaking about my own mess, etc. 🙂

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  • thenester

    Jenn, I love this SO. much.

    • Aw, thanks! I’m honored you stopped by :). Really!

      Pretty sure this little hospitality scenario was the ultimate illustration of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” for me :).

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  • Valorie MacDonald

    Really, I don’t need to wait until my home is even moderately presentable. Jenn, i needed read no further to know we are kindred spirits! Lol I have ALWAYS taken this approach [always since about the time I was on bed rest with my twins our entire 3rd trimester!.. 😮 … ;] No matter how I still stress at times over it, I just put my head down and plow through the psychosis! You see, it isn’t that I don’t think it matters; or that I don’t WANT my house to be a sparkling beacon of …whatever… and I still need encouragement in it! I just know that in the end it’s people that count, and being obedient about what God puts in our heart. And for any out there yet unconvinced, it pays off! Just last weekend I got the call at 10 p.m. (!!!) asking if we could host our home church in OUR home (!!!!!!!)
    Well, there no dirty laundry baskets to trip over [hid those in the closet!] and the bathrooms were clean.. Dishes too, though not yet put away… And church was GREAT! And people said thank you! And they meant it; I could tell. So power on, brave fellow mommies and wives and women and men, all we who endeavor to show God’s mercy and grace through the very fact that we need Him oh, so very much…
    By the way I really love your writing style, Jenn. I landed here from Five Minute Friday. There was just something about your picture/blog name. I’ll have to pop by again soon when I have a bit more screen time budgeted;) I just wanted to let you know how you blessed me today!
    Valorie M.

    • Valerie, thanks for such a kind note! Way to stuff things in the closets and welcome those peeps in! 🙂

      I’m so with you–it’s not that I don’t want a clean house (Lord knows I do), it’s just that I don’t want some mess to hinder opening my home. And as long as I have little ones, it will never be a “sparkling beacon” of whatever anyway. 🙂

      I feel like it’s in the times that we physically can’t attempt a sparkling house (bedrest, crazy cats, etc) that we are able to see most clearly that it’s not all about appearances anyway.

      Anyway, I’m off to plow through my own psychosis/prep the house for more guests :).

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  • I laughed out loud at the naughty cat comment. We let missionaries use our home for a week for a family reunion while we were out of town, only to learn that our cat had been very naughty while we were away. Nice to meet you!

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