Everything was all set. Ken and I were going to cook dinner for our house guest on a Sunday evening. Simple. Easy. Casual. Just the three of us. Then three became seven.
My husband asked if we could invite a good friend of us all, her husband, and daughter over to dinner as well. My first response: no. I couldn’t wrap my head around having a dinner party for six. All the excuses for why I couldn’t host six people were racing through my mind.
But then I stopped myself and started figuring out how to make it happen.
I CAN DO THIS
The house was clean enough. I had enough dishware and glasses. I could use the two barstools at the table to make six. We could stop by the store and get three more steaks, more veggies. We had enough wine on hand. Wait, I need something non-alcoholic? Oh yeah, I just happen to have peppermint tea bags that I can whip up into iced tea. Okay, I think we (meaning me) can do this. Ken was never stressed, and he was the one seasoning and cooking six steaks!
Now mind you we were gone all day between church then a fun excursion at TopGolf. We set dinner for 6:30 p.m. and got home at 4:30 p.m. Just two hours to make magic happen. I can still do this.
Then it happened. Ken springs on me that he has invited one of our friends from the TopGolf excursion to join us for dinner. Six guests, which was nearly impossible for me to digest, have now become seven guests. The rant began.
“We can’t host seven people here? The table only seats six, and that is with using the two bar stools! I don’t even have a seventh chair I can scrounge up!”
“Honey, we will make it work,” reaffirmed Ken. After all, this was HIS doing.
“How? The only other seat I have is the footstool, and it’s way too short!”
“We will make it work,” he calmly said. To him, this was no big deal. To me, it was a HUGE deal on so many levels.
But why was it a huge deal? That’s the bigger question.
Well, I am sad to admit this, but my perfectionism had taken over. Seven people at my table only made for six would not be perfect. My seating was four chairs, two bar stools, and now an orange – yes orange – footstool. My matchy-matchy compulsion was thrown out the window. I only had matching glassware for six; heaven forbid the glasses didn’t match! Oh, and where would everyone sit before dinner? Our house is too small! Yes, my perfectionism had kicked into high-gear.
As our guests arrived, it became clear that the evening was not about matching glasses, seating for seven, or the fact that our place is cozy. It was about creating an environment for friends to gather and share their hearts. As I stood cooking in the kitchen (yes, I did some cooking), I watched as conversations unfolded throughout the house. No one cared where they sat or if they were bumping into other people, they just wanted to spend time together.
When it came time for dinner, I took my seat on the orange footstool. I was a head shorter than everyone, but it added to the charm of the evening. Dinner was great, the conversation excellent. It was perfect. I started to realize that God needed us to open our home so these conversations could happen. It also gave us a chance to love on one another. The evening was perfect in His sight.
NOT MY BEST MOMENT
I am not proud of the fact that I first said no, then hemmed and hawed, panicked, and then finally got my priorities set straight. Not quite the God-honoring response. But I am incredibly grateful that Ken encouraged me that we could pull it off and that I gave in. God was in our home that evening, and to think I almost missed out because of my need to be perfect. My perfect plans are never perfect – never – but God’s plans are always perfect.
See, in my mind, my home is a reflection of me. What people see in my home or think of my home translates into what they see in and think of me. Yes, I know that it is entirely nonsensical, but it’s where my brain goes. God is teaching me what is true, and the truth is, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:25 (MSG). I was completely disabled at the thought of people in my home, and I wasn’t ready. But it wasn’t about me. It’s never about me, as I am slowly discovering.
As my mom reminds me, perfect is boring. She’s right. I just sometimes forget that truth.
- Could you have people over at a moments notice or would that incite panic? Why or why not?
- Do you find yourself overly concerned with what others think of you or your home? And if so, what do you think drives that concern?
- When you think about what it means to be perfect, what comes to mind?
- There is a fine line between taking care of things and striving for perfection. Where do you draw that line?
I have struggled with perfectionism for as long as I can remember. I used to tell myself that aiming for perfection made me a better person, friend, co-worker, homemaker, etc. But in reality, it has made me obsessive, worrisome, critical of myself and others, and disabled. Real beauty, real acceptance is in the imperfect.
If you struggle with the disease of perfectionism, I invite you to follow my friend Leslie Newman’s blog Journey to Imperfect. She has great resources for battling perfectionism with the power of God’s Word.