She, with a confident smile, held open the door and invited me to enter her new home. After a decade-long friendship with her, I knew what I would find on the other side of the door; though I had not visited this house before.
I would see the fashionable furniture tastefully arranged in the new rooms.
I would see the familiar decorations artfully hung on the new walls.
I would see the new counter tops clean and the new floors spotless.
And then I would have that familiar feeling of guilt and inferiority that in my own home I had left dirty dishes piled in my sink, dirt caked on the kitchen floor and more than a couple of faint footprints on the walls beside my children's beds.
But, for once, I saw something in her home I didn't expect to see. I saw dirty dishes in her dishwasher.
That's when I had an epiphany - even an amazing hostess doesn't always get her dishes washed before guests arrive. She just hides them in the dishwasher. And ITS OK! With that one revelation I felt the guilt and inferiority roll off my shoulders and land on her spotless floor.
As I've thought about that moment in the months since visiting my friend, I've wondered, "why did I ever feel guilty and inferior in her home?" At no time has my friend EVER expressed judgment or disgust with my less-than-spotless housekeeping. In fact, she's always seemed comfortable and pleased to be in my home.
So what is it that causes these negative feelings?
I think the root cause lies in a dangerous game I learned to play at an early age called "Compare Myself to Others." This game only has two outcomes: feeling pride over my (false) superiority or feeling guilt over my (false) inferiority. Either way I miss an opportunity to deepen my relationship with my friend.
So, I am determined NOT to compare my housekeeping skills to those of my friend, but instead to rejoice that God created us both unique and equipped us differently for the tasks of caring for our individual families and homes. Then I will feel thankful for my friend's homemaking skills and our relationship will become even more valuable to me.
And the next time I visit her home, I'll smile to myself as I wonder... does she dirty dishes in her dishwasher?
Have you played "Compare Myself to Others" when receiving hospitality? What kind of impact has it had on the hospitality you give? Will you join me in resisting comparisons and choosing thankfulness for our individuality?