I have just survived my home being invaded by ten sorority girls.
Earlier in the week my daughter, one of the aforementioned girls, asked what plans we had this weekend and then commenced to let us know what our plans would be.
So, there was cleaning and shopping and cooking. Grilling hamburgers and chicken. A drive for dessert. Setting up the firepit for a brief window before the drizzle. Fruit and eggs and pancakes for breakfast. Setting out the dishes, washing the dishes, setting out the dishes again.
My wife and I enjoy entertaining and we love when our daughter comes home. It’s a delight to welcome her friends into our home and work to make them feel comfortable. Beyond sorority sleepovers for a quick trip to the city, we love hosting family gatherings, small group discussions, friend hang-outs.
We joke (it’s mostly true), that we like having people over because it forces us to clean and cook.
And that’s the slippery slope I find myself sometimes sliding down.
Like my friend Martha (Luke 10:38-42), I can be so focused on the prep and execution of hosting, so consumed by anticipating and meeting needs, so locked into the how and what of welcoming others, I forget the why.
Years from now, I want my daughter to remember coming home and enjoying a great weekend with her folks and some friends. I don’t want her to think, “My dad did a good job keeping the dishes clean.”
If I am ever able to host you, I don’t want you going away impressed by how I cleaned and organized our time together. I want you to experience me as present and interested and connected. I want you to feel loved because we spent time together. This is the why of relationships.
Before you think I’m suggesting we don’t prepare for or “work” while we have guests, the prep and execution isn’t bad or wrong. I only have so many plates. If we’re going to use them for multiple meals, they’ll need washing. The point is not that we don’t cook and clean, but that we do so as it serves our greater desire to be with others.
Sometimes, we need to say, “I’ll get to the dishes later. Right now, I need to play this game.” We need to watch the movie. Take the walk. Buy ten girls frozen yogurt so we can sit near them and laugh at their goofiness and enjoy their company for a coupe of hours.
If we are blessed, that’s all we get, right? Just a little time to spend with others.
I am glad that now the “party” is over, I have some memories mixed in with the burger flipping and the pancake pouring; memories that make the cleaning and the craziness all worth it.
Life is better together,