Why You’ve Got to Have Guests When Your House isn’t Perfect

wood door

I learned the hard way that it’s better to invite a friend in than tell them no because you are embarrassed.

I said NO once, years ago. And I still regret it. Telling my friend she can’t come in to use the bathroom went way deeper than my shame over a falling apart weird bathroom in a 100 year old house that we rented. It wasn’t because I was afraid there was underwear on the floor, I could have run in and made a joke about straightening up really quick…

Me not allowing her to come in was me telling her that I couldn’t really trust her.

I was telling her she can’t be trusted with the imperfections of my life so I have to go to great lengths to hide them. I was telling her that I believed she would judge me.

The truth is, there are some people in the world who can’t be trusted with the imperfections of my life, but usually, I’m not friends with them. Usually those aren’t the people dropping me off at my house who ask if they can come in and use my bathroom. Those are the people I can trust with my mess. If not them, then who?

Inviting someone into your home is a high form of trust.

It says here are my powerlines, here are my unfinished things. I trust you can handle that. It’s okay. Life goes on. People are more important than how I rate my stuff. And I trust you feel the same way.


Inviting someone into your mess says: I trust you.

Hospitality isn’t about impressing your friends. Who wants to go to that house?

free from judgingdon’t you love it when you are writing a post and your sister happens to tweet the perfect quote?

Hospitality isn’t about me. It’s about you who come into my home. It’s about listening and connecting and encouraging. It’s about rest and peace and fun. And hopefully eating something delicious and drinking iced coffees.

Guess what? I can do all of that with half stripped wallpaper, carpet pad for flooring in our upstairs hall and a pink toilet.

If you are lucky, that friend will hold your hand and point out the beauty that you might not see.

If I wait until my house is acceptable before I invite people in we are both losing. Because I know me, and I’ll never deem it acceptable. It’s worth it to start now.


friends Maria, Logan & Jeremy, Reeve, Caroline, Jen, Asheley & Jamin, Karrie & Josh’s party, & Angela, Darlene & Shannon (my design mentors!) have all been to our fixer-upper unfinished home in the past six months. I’m so glad I did it anyway. I’m so glad I said yes.

This weekend Tsh and Kyle and the kids are coming. She has a book signing & reader meetup here in Charlotte (Chad & Reeve & I will be there, we hope to see you there!) and our husbands have gotten to know each other enough that this seems like a really fun idea. So basically, the Simple Guru of the Internet is coming to my unfinished, fixer-upper, chaotic house. She actually came a few months ago, when our house was in even more chaos. So that helps me remember the words I write in this post. Because I too, have to remember that THIS is so worth it and that Tsh can be trusted with my imperfections. I know she can.

Will I clean my house? Of course. Will I fret and worry and apologize? Nope.

We’re happy to welcome the Oxenreider family into our world where things aren’t perfect because we trust they can relate.


things aren't perfect


Because your house might not be perfect but your home & hospitality are exactly what we need.

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  1. Ooh, I needed this one. Hospitality is SO not one of my gifts. I have never been comfortable bringing people into my house, but I am working on it. Thanks for putting this in front of me today.

  2. Thank you! That’s all.

  3. I worry about the house not being clean and picked up. I’m getting better at welcoming friends over even though the house isn’t perfectly clean, but I do make sure the guest bath is ALWAYS ready for guests! My pet peeve is having dirty bathrooms!

  4. This is perfect. A great reminder not to fret over things that don’t matter.

  5. beautiful! people are so much more important than things!

  6. Wow. I needed to hear this. So beautifully written, Myquillyn! In such a graceful way. Thank you!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your blog is a great reminder each day of that which is, or should be, important. A couple of months ago I blogged about this very topic. I am posting a link in the event that you are interested in reading it. Have a blessed day…It is Good Enough.

  8. I have gotten better with this over the years but your post was a great reminder of why we feel that way sometimes. When I think about it though, the people who I am the best friends with, are the people who don’t have their houses spotlessly clean. I guess that either says a lot about them – or the way they feel about me! I always feel most comfortable when I arrive at a house that looks lived in.

  9. What a great post… I feel like you’re all up in my issues over having a small, builder grade house. I’d never thought about it as a trust issue before. It makes me wonder if I choose not to trust them because maybe I judge and compare too sometimes? So that I’ll feel better? So yucky. I fight this inclination but maybe the best way to get over it is to just open my door. On Tsh’s podcast, Shauna talked about having 3 step friends and 6 step friends (referring to how many steps you take to get ready for them to come over)… thought that was interesting. Anyway… thanks for sharing this. :). See you at Tsh’s book signing this weekend!

  10. Love this advice! I live in a home that is over a 100 years old so no matter how hard I try it is never perfect and I always go crazy over guests. I need to learn to just enjoy the guests and not fret about the house.

  11. Your timing on this is perfect. My son and I are having a Valentine’s Day party this weekend and I have been making myself crazy not only cleaning but mudding, priming, painting, the works. I doubt my friends are coming to inspect my home….I need to relax and enjoy their company. :)

  12. So beautifully said! Years ago I had a good friend over and my house was a disaster. I started apologizing profusely with excuses about why it was so messy,etc. and she simply said, “Kris. I came over here to see you. Not your house.” Those words have stuck with me. True friends couldn’t care less.

  13. Years ago I told my pastor’s wife that I would never apologize for my home, and without letting me explain my statement, she totally misunderstood and told me that I was proud and arrogant. The words of your post perfectly explain what she didn’t understand. She was definitely not to be trusted and built mistrust in me for others thinking that they misunderstood like she did. It’s hard to explain, but her reaction caused me to withdraw where I had been very welcoming before. I’m just recovering now.

    I read how you put so much effort into your home, not to make it a perfect showplace, but to make it a retreat comfortable for those you welcome and have a lot of fun in the process. Thank you for sharing. I’m into public vs. private space now…my private space is for those whom I can trust. Others are welcome in the public space. I think you understand.

  14. This is so good, Nester. I agree with everything you said! I want so badly for my house to be perfect…but the root of that desire is often to impress someone or have them think I am ______ (fill in the blank with all sorts of awesomeness). And yet following Christ means a downward descent instead of the upward mobility of this world – to be willing to be humble, open, lay down our rights, serve. Having people over is not about me, and I always need to be reminded of that.

  15. Lovely words, enjoy your visiting and don’t worry about a thing. :)

  16. An acquaintance stopped by the other day, and instead of saying “I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to clean up” or “Pardon the mess, we are remodeling” – I told her the truth: “We LIVE here.” Like you and so many others, I’m tired of apologizing for living in my own home!

  17. Great post…. love the quote…(still working on that judging thing…thank you LORD!) and the comment about the power lines! We all have stuff we would rather people don’t see, but it’s still just stuff and not us…… It is about trust….. Proverbs 3:5-6 Thanks so much for your wonderful words and pictures that speak a thousand words. We all love you! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  18. Thank you for writing this post! It’s so encouraging! We are hoping to purchase a fixer as well. I would love to have people over without fear of judgement. But as you pointed out, true friends don’t judge. So, if they do, I can just stop inviting them ;) Have a great time with Tsh!

  19. Some of the moms at our school have formed our own Don’t Clean For Me! pact just to avoid this sort of thing. It all came from this post making its FB rounds

    The crumbs tell you you’re welcome in our house :)

  20. Inviting someone into your mess says: Welcome into my life. Serving YOU is most important…more than my concern with what you’ll think of me and my messy house.

  21. I just experienced this yesterday when someone walked over in the snow! Awesome timing!!

    I would love to meet Tsh in the Charlotte area – I’m in Lexington SC. Her site says to come early. What time would you advise? It doesn’t look too far north of the stadium and I’m familiar with that area. I’ve been to Becoming 2 yrs now…any chance she might agree to be a speaker? I can’t wait for Becoming this year!!

  22. So true! I use to fret all the time about our home when we had guests. We lived in a beach town and our friends often dropped by with little warning, which I loved, but it left little time for me to create perfection. Eventually I realized that they never even noticed the things I worried about. They were focused on the memories we were making as friends. It took some time, but it was a great lesson learned.

  23. SO true! I tend always to have a project–or 20–going on. And life happens. It’s hard to show others our warts & all, so thanks for sharing your humanness, for sharing your holding your friend at arm’s length. And my doing just that is what’s kept me from working on my blog–fear of being judged.
    Ironically, I type this as I’m wearing a huge terrycloth turquoise bathrobe, my jammies & socks, shoes, a furry full-length sweater coat, & a blue hat. Charming, huh? What’s even better is that I added that outerwear to dash out my front door for my daughter to hand off a package to me in the front driveway. OF COURSE, someone drove up 10 feet away in the neighbor’s driveway & saw me like that! Humbling!

  24. I can relate so much to this post. I have two friends who I enjoy visiting with so much but they both have told me I couldn’t come in because there house was such a mess. They both did let me in but I was uncomfortable because I felt I put them on the spot by dropping by(they both had told me to drop by anytime). I have not been back to their houses and have lost contact with one of them. The other I am still friends with but I don’t visit her although I would love to. So please, don’t risk a friendship over a silly house!

  25. I’m struggling with this one. And not because of half stripped wallpaper (currently in my kitchen), but because of the “everyday life mess” that “others” seem to be able to, I don’t know, contain?, in their homes, but not me.
    Jennifer (above) said, “we LIVE here”, and looking at the everyday mess I think, “who LIVES like this?!”. So no desire to invite people over since I usually have no desire to spend a whole day cleaning. Sad.

    • we ALL live like this at one time or another…i’m guessing your kids are younger than mine…it’s just a season and it will pass. now is the time to live…don’t worry about the mess…live.

      • Lauren, thank you so much for your kindness. I’m even more embarrassed now – no kids in this household. Or I can just laugh instead of being embarrassed :). Example, I just made “dirt” dessert with “worms” for a friend’s b-day tomorrow. I could have straightened up during that time, but hey, live, right? Thank you.

        • you’re so sweet. i’m so sorry to inadvertently make it worse. kids or no kids, life is too short to worry about messes. you’re taking care of a friend’s birthday. that’s a way better use of your time than any cleaning endeavor i can think of! have a great day!

  26. Wonderful! Thanks for the reminder.

  27. I used to be friends with a couple. He has OCD about neatness you would not believe. (My diagnosis but that’s how he is) The one time he was here he couldn’t get out fast enough, was very anxious while he was here, said he was thinking of opening his own business to clear out other people’s homes of clutter. Strong hint. His wife and I were close. I didn’t know she was having heart trouble again so I didn’t call then. Haven’t spoken since I learned, apologizes, etc. I have many debilitating (st times) chronic health issues too and I never would do that. I guess my friendship with her wasn’t that strong.

  28. I love your honesty! I’m working on a post about cleaning up a messy house because I grew up in a home that was always messy! Now that I have my own home, I’ve picked up on the temptation to keep everything as perfect as possible–most of my friends have tidy homes–but I understand now that the purpose of a clean and tidy home is to make guests feel comfortable and have peace and rest. Not to give a false impression of having it all together or to be so perfect that others feel jealous. It’s so nice to read your blog. I’m a new blogger and you are a great example to me in this new blogging culture. God bless you, and have a great Valentines Day!

    • I love how you worded this, Chelsea. It’s so true.

      A home can be lived in but tidy (doesn’t have to be perfect) and that makes for a restful place to visit.

      Having several kids helps to loosen you up, too – especially if they’re boys! I have 4 and sometimes it’s a major embarrassment when others see their space. I just grin and bear it. :)

  29. “Inviting someone into your mess says: I trust you.” Thank you for showing us the way.

  30. I learned that lesson when I was was much younger from an older wiser often messy lady who was a neighbor. Her house was always a mess and she never apologized for it. I could drop by anytime, which was great when I had little kids at home and sometimes just had to get out to talk to an adult.
    Will there be books for sale at the booksigning at Amelies? I’m going to call a logging friend to come with me but neither of us has the book.

  31. I love this post! So much that I shared it on FB. I’ve always been a ‘SURE! Come on over!” kind of person. My husband is not. He stresses about our gross rental house carpets. He worries about the crazy rental house paint. He has fits if there are a few toys on the floor, or shoes where they don’t belong. And no matter how many times I try to explain that people aren’t coming over to visit the house, he can’t get past how he feels the state of the house reflects on his ability to provide a decent home for his family.

    I really hope he takes a couple of minutes and reads this post. I know that I’ve been in a less than stellar but better than grody bathroom and thought, if they just… Well, I’m sure they will someday, but that’s not why I’m here! And I go out and visit, which is why I came in the first place.

  32. wise words. thank you.

  33. Perfect Valentine’s Day post. Love me … Love my things may be out of place home.
    I must be the most trusting person in the world and the most talked about. :D You may or may not find hubby’s shoes in the floor and you may find a sink that’s not been wiped out this week. And hair products that haven’t been put back in their perspective places. But come on in. Step over, get a clean towel out from under the bathroom sink to dry your hands *cause I just may not have put a clean one out yet* and enjoy a visit.
    I love this post! Happy Valentine’s Day


  34. I can totoally relate! Before I had my own house and any money to really make my home..”ME”, I would avoid letting people come to my house…it didn’t represent who I was or so I thought. I’m so glad I’m past that phase of my life but I still need to “chill” when people pop in for a visit…I find my eyes darting around the house/room to see what needs to be picked up! Thanks for the reminder!

  35. My goodness, I LOVE this post. I have this way of stressing so much over the state of my home that by the time my guests come I am the opposite of hospitable. I have melt downs, I’m short and impolite, especially to family, and I can understand why people might not want to come back. I’ve been working on that for a couple years now. But the way you talk about showing trust…that makes it so much clearer and easier to put it all in perspective.

  36. Oh, Myquillyn, this is just such an important reminder. I grew up in a home where my parents were always trying to impress their neighbors and friends, so things always had to be “perfect.” I am shedding that mindset little by little, but it’s a lesson I wish I had learned a lot sooner. I’ve passed up way too many opportunities to invite people over.

  37. Best Post Ever Written!

  38. Love it! I feel like this is the lesson I’ve been learning over and over this past year. What’s great is that the more I invite people into the imperfection, the easier it gets!
    And the part about friends pointing out the beauty you didn’t realize was there–so, so true.

  39. Perfect timing on your post. The maid just left after spending all day cleaning our house. We have a couple of dozen church friends coming over for the first time tomorrow night and we wanted the house to be clean. Plus, it was my our Valentine gift to each other to have a clean house due to someone else working on it all day! We love to entertain and are so blessed that we have a big house to welcome others into.
    Thank you!

  40. What a wonderful reminder! I’ve had those moments when I wanted to discreetly peek through the slit of my open front door, but instead, with a sigh of surrender, I swung it wide and said, smiling, “Welcome to my mess!” Invariably my dear friends would laugh and step inside, and I noticed their eyes were on me, not on the toys all over the floor and the laundry on the couch. :)

  41. Thank you for this. My husband calls it “fake housing”. My mad dash to get everything we use put away and the house spotless before we entertain. He will say “Why are we fake housing?” and of course I scream “What are you talking about? Our house always looks like this!” I have always only let true friends see the real me and my real house.

  42. Favorite post yet!

  43. I cannot read and share this message enough today. Yes Yes Yes inviting someone into your mess says I trust you and those I know I cannot trust, well of course I know what that means. Thank you for a very timely reminder.

  44. This is one of my favorite things you’ve written. So simple. So true. So well said.

  45. This is so insightful. I have nothing profound to leave in this comment other than just to say thanks for sharing the thoughts! :)

  46. Thanks! I needed that!

  47. I found the post very similar to my thoughts, guests are always welcomed at my place.

  48. You gave such solid reasoning to a concept I’ve struggled to accept. I’ve heard a million times to let people in when it’s not perfect but sometimes I’m certain we’ll be judged. But THIS is the reason that resonates with me most. And you’ve given definition to why I always feel flattered that people let me in to their mess too. They trust me. What a gift! Why would I keep a trusted friend at arm’s length when it comes to my home?

    Another reason not to verbally tear apart your home – it makes others feel insecure about their own home. “If she thinks her place is a mess, what will she think of mine?” It’s the same as when people complain about their bodies – everyone in worse shape now feels insulted.

  49. one of my favorite posts from you ever.
    it’s so true.
    when i think back to my younger self…the one who always kept a clean house for fear that someone would just “drop” by….i know that that younger self lived out of a DEEP fear that people couldn’t handle my imperfections.

    feels so good to be okay with imperfection at 40.
    and okay with people dropping by.

  50. The underwear part made me laugh, because it became a reality the other day. My husband and I both had to work late and I asked my dad to go let my dog out. I cringed the whole time with full knowledge that I HAD left underwear on the bedroom floor where our dog is crated. But, my discomfort was silly. As a father of five girls, he’s seem plenty of girls’ underwear. And he would never judge me. He loves me.

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