A Blessing in an Unclean House

I was blessed with a visit from an old friend over the weekend. We had planned to spend some time catching up and reliving our glory days seeing a band that we had adored back in high school.

I spent the days prior to her arrival reminding myself that I needed to get the house clean. The bathrooms. The floors. The kitchen counters that were covered in papers, and the kid’s trinkets, and crumbs, and dirty dishes. The toys which were littered about the house. I fretted about what she would think of me if my house wasn’t clean. I am, after all, 34 years old. An adult. A stay-at-home mom. A woman who is home for much of the day, but somehow can’t manage to keep her house clean. I hadn’t seen my old friend in at least five years, and prior to that it had been what feels like a lifetime. Our youth had come to an end and we had arrived smack-dab in the middle of adulthood. A place of full time jobs, full time parenting, or both. A place of paying bills, cooking dinner, taking care of children, and keeping the house clean.

But, as usual, the week got away from me. Between Halloween festivities, doctors appointments, gymnastics classes, doing laundry, cooking meals, and running errands, the housework fell by the wayside. I did manage to have some clean towels and clean bedding ready for my guest, but that was it. No clean bathrooms. No tidy countertops. No clean floors. Toys covering the entire house. The garbage can overflowing.

As I cooked dinner while waiting for her arrival, I prayed that our time together would be blessed. I prayed that she could overlook the state of my messy home, and I prayed that she would feel comfortable. My local friends whom I see more often know better than to expect a clean house from me, but my old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years? I didn’t know what she expected or what image of me she had conjured up in her head.

And then she arrived. In a sweatshirt and a hoodie, hair undone. Nothing fancy. Nothing presumptuous. Despite the messy appearance of my house, her arrival had put me at ease. She was still the easy-going, non-judgmental person she had been in high school. I felt silly for fretting over the condition of my house. She cared as much about tidiness as she did 20 years ago, which wasn’t a whole lot. She had no one to impress, and it turns out neither did I.

It was as if no time had passed, except for the appearance of a few wrinkles and gray hairs. Sure we were older, slightly more mature, and somewhat weighed down by adulthood, but the bond between us hadn’t changed. There was no fanfare. And there was no need to fake a put-together life. It was so refreshing, being with this friend of mine who has been in my life for nearly 20 years. There was nothing to prove and nothing to hide. She expected nothing from me, not even a spotless home. She just wanted a short break from the responsibilities of her daily life, and I was able to give that to her. And in return she filled my heart up with her unassuming attitude, her humble spirit, and her immediate love for my children.

So often, we worry about the minor details of life instead of focusing on the people. I could’ve spent the weekend apologizing for my messy house, running around picking up after the kids, or simply catching up on the cleaning that needed to be done. But then I would have missed out on the details of good conversation. On the details of the delightful interactions between my children and my friend. And on the details of a friendship that is rarely given the opportunity to blossom.

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