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See what happens with imperfection

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

As you start this week, remember to not wait for life to be perfect before you take a risk in the name of friendship. Don’t wait for your house to be perfectly clean before inviting that potential new friend over for tea, or to have all the time in the world in your calendar before seeing if your neighbor wants to go out for happy hour.

If you want friendship, you need to make room for it by being vulnerable with your imperfections. After all, friends are friends, in many cases, because of shared weaknesses, passions, and priorities. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” If you wait until everything’s roses, there’ll be no “you too?” to share.

One of the hardest things about the culture where we lived in Turkey was its definition of cleanliness. See, no matter how clean I thought our home was (not that it was ever spotless, with two preschoolers underfoot), it paled in comparison to my average neighbor.

See, my local friends—when they cleaned, they cleaned. There was hardly a time I saw a dust bunny in their homes—and to boot, it was an honor if you dropped by unannounced. Swinging by to say hello usually turned into a two-hour tea, complete with pastries and undivided attention.

And if you’re doing the math, then yep, giving me honor was to swing by my place, unannounced. Where I lived with little people. In a culture that values cleanliness.

Needless to say, it made me nervous.

But you know what I learned? Rarely was there a time that I wasn’t loved because our house wasn’t clean enough. Even if my home was a disaster compared to their pristine dwellings, local friends never said a word. They just smiled. And loved. And usually laughed at my language blunders.

Friendship and hospitality are about relationships. It’s not about impressing one another. It’s not about one-upping each other, sizing each other, or wringing your hands with worry about what the other person thinks.

It’s about being yourself and seeing what happens. Remember to be yourself this week—and to be brave and invite someone in to your life, imperfect as it is.

Part of this post was first published in February 2012–I leave for Australia tomorrow morning, so I’ll be busy today packing, reading to my kids, and going on a date night. If you’re near Gold Coast next weekend, I’d love to see you!

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Comments

  1. It’s easy to miss the point when it comes to hospitality, this is a good reminder about what it really is about, building relationships. Going to make inviting a new friend round a priority this week.

    Oh, and I so wish I lived near the Gold Coast in Australia! Please come to the UK, or even better visit the little island of Guernsey on your world travels, it’s a perfect stepping stone between the UK and France, if you’re heading that way.

  2. That Lewis quote is one of my very favorites, ever. :)

    Have a great trip!

  3. Good reminder. Have a great trip, Tsh!!

  4. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  5. A lovely reminder, Tsh! If anyone is looking for more on this topic, Brene Brown writes insightful, accessible and well researched books. Most recently, Dare Greatly. Such important messages for recovering perfectionists.

  6. Have always loved that Lewis quote. And such good words about hospitality and friendship!

    For me, inviting people into a less-than-sparkling or not-quite-beautifully-decorated space is a great way to remind myself that it’s not all about appearances anyway.

  7. Great post. I just walked through my living room which looks like a toy box, craft box, mini-kitchen, exercise box just exploded. Given that I am in Turkey and my neighbors HAVE dropped by in such chaos, I have to learn to just accept it myself. My neighbors have never once said anything. Neither have my friends. They don’t come to see how we live (well, maybe the neighbors want a peek at the crazy foreigners), but come to see us. I’m thankful for friends who let me see their mess!

  8. Such a good reminder for our week! When I was first married my husband would just gawk at the anxious whirl wind I’d become before company. I would run around cleaning, and yelling, and dissolve into tears. I heard the term “hostess neurosis” years later and thought it described it perfectly. Of course I wasn’t very pleasant to be around. And slowly over the years, I’ve learned to be more realistic about what can get done before company, and we’ve gotten systems down. But really I had to learn that it was ME that had to get ready. I have to be kind and welcoming and engaged for people to feel warmly received. And if I’m all wrapped up in the dust and the spots on the water glasses than I’m not really all there to listen.

  9. I gotta show this to my kids. They always got so freaked out when their friends would come over and the house was not spic and span (don’t know if I ever get rid of ALL the dust bunnies)

  10. The timing of this was spot on – I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

  11. That is so true! In our “Pinterest loving” culture, we seem to think that hospitality means having a photo worthy spread laid out in our photo worthy home with place cards for each guest and take home goodies for each. My mother always had a store bought pie or pastry in the fridge just in case someone dropped by. She was known for her hospitality and people always lingered at her table.

  12. When my friends drop by unannounced, I take it as a compliment that we’re close enough to feel comfortable dropping by anytime. If it’s a mess, then I tell them they can go home feeling good about their own houses. It’s win-win.

  13. I needed this. But boy is it hard to actually do! I’m swimming in imperfections over here. Thank you for the encouragement and challenge.

  14. The difference between hospitality and entertaining: Entertaining requires the vinaigrette to be served in the beautiful PB cruet because, well, it is a vinaigrette after all. While hospitality allows the host to pull out the bottle of Ranch with the crusty bits of dressing on the lid, because that is what the guest likes. Just like you say, it is with hospitality that we feel loved.

  15. avatar
    Sarah Westphal says:

    Too funny! I did that last week to a new neighbour who was literally walking by. My hair needed some washing, the house was a disaster. But. It. So. Didn’t. Matter. We chatted, drank coffee, watched the kids run around and started a friendship.

    She told me today- that she had sooooooooo needed this friendship… just at the time I had called her in for coffee last week.

    It is a blessing to open your doors for others and offer whatever hospitality you can. Nothing fancy required.

  16. avatar
    Katie Di Filippo says:

    I’m so happy to have read this. For me and my husband, cleaning is always the first thing to slip when life gets a little busier or were just tired and unfortunately, love her though I do, I have a friend whos made comments about us being dirty, and though she says things as a joke, it can also feel like a critisicm and its so great to see how many people are normal and also think its important to have guests over, perfect or not without it being a big deal.

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