Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Public Opinion Poll

I've heard the question asked: Would you rather be invited to a house that is clean and organized or to one that is slightly messy, but the occupants are most welcoming? I think many people would choose the latter, but what about those homes that are so messy and disorderly that they are unpleasant to be in even with a warm, welcoming host? But then, we've all been in houses that are so clean and sterile that you're afraid to sit down for fear of disturbing the meticulously arranged throw pillows. So my question is this:

How important is cleanliness to you as a guest?

One reason I'm asking this question is because I'm attempting to reach that perfect balance between a tidy and pleasant home and the realities of having children who enjoy wreaking havoc on whichever room they are in (and some they're not in!)
I'd love to get some male opinions in here, too. So tell me, what do you think?


Jeremy Beach said...


I can't recall a time when I've ever been at your house and felt anything but welcome and thought anything but what a well-kept home. I think that you already do well at keeping a good balance.

As a guest, I prefer being in homes where kids are allowed a certain amount of freedom to be kids. I think it's a little too much when there's so much clutter that the floor is completely buried, but if you have to error on the side of being too clean or too messy, error on the side of being messy...it shows you're human.

Gabrielle said...

I've been in homes where I checked the sofa before I sat down (or at least I wanted to) and homes where someone laughingly says to just push that pile onto the floor so I could sit in the chair. The second doesn't bother me at all, but the first makes me very uncomfortable. Clutter doesn't bother me, but uncleanness does. I don't really mind if there's stuff everywhere as long as it still feels sanitary.

I think in this culture we are stupid when it comes to hospitality. The standards are set by people who don't live in the real world and, often, use their homes to feel better than others. Even if we don't have this sin we are still held to this standard by a good percentage of people we might have over and by ourselves. I think it's stupid, but I'm not sure how to fix it. Just having people over no matter how the house looks can feel slovenly and, depending on who it is and how well we know them, could be offensive. But deep cleaning before guests and making it stay that way means hospitality will never happen. I think it's a problem someone else should work on fixing. :-)

james3v1 said...


I'll second Gaby's clutter vs. cleanliness. I don't want to pick dried food off my fork and wonder how hot the water was when it was washed, but if there is stuff on the floor I probably won't notice.

For some people smells are probably important. Not to me! (I can't smell), but I think the hospitality commands shouldn't wait until our children are in their teens.

Jeremy Beach said...

I wanted to clarify my previous comment. I, too, was referring more to uncleaness rather than clutter as being an issue for me. I used the word "clutter," but this was because I couldn't think of a good word to distinguish between clutter that comes from having a bustling family versus the clutter that comes from sheer laziness and indifference to healthy living.

Crystal said...

I'm with you all. I've actually been in a home once where the moment I walked in, I had a woman literally yell at me and say, "remove your shoes, right there, don't go past that spot right there, and make sure your socks are clean." I felt like a little child. I was very uncomfortable in her home and desperately afraid of doing something wrong.

Come to think of it...I did do something wrong. During dinner, she told me "the butter knife is NOT for spreading the butter on your bread. You use the butter knife to place the butter on your plate, then use your OWN knife to spread it onto your bread. The butter knife does NOT touch the food on your plate."

It was a horrible experience and we never went back to their home again.

I feel much more comfortable if there are a couple toys out of place, or maybe a couple dirty dishes. If it is a spotless home, I just feel too embarrassed to invite them over to my home.

Adiel said...

Thanks for all your comments. I think the distinction between clutter and cleanness makes a lot of sense. I suppose trying to maintain a perfect balance will be a life long goal (as with so many of my other goals!)
I do love being hospitable. And I really enjoy having people over that I can clean in front of- you know, those people that stick around to help wash dishes and chat with you as you mop up a mess that a kid made. It'd sure be great if we could all be those "non-people", but alas, some of us (meaning me) are too uptight. Well, I guess that's one more thing for me to work on. :o)

Theresa said...

This can be a complicated matter, seeing what great sin factories we all are- or maybe I've just put way too much thought into it. A guest could be uncomfortable because the furniture is too new, unlike their house, and are afraid of spilling(should we have old furniture to accommodate them?). Others might be uncomfortable because a hostess cautions them not to sit on the wet spot on the couch, even if she doesn't go into detail about what cleaning method was used to get rid of who's accident (should we have a parlor to insulate them from these real life happenings?). Different people are uncomfortable in different situations, so one person will be completely comfortable in my house, and another will be very uncomfortable at the haphazard surroundings. I think as a guest of a brother or sister in Christ, we should enjoy their house as an expression of themselves (helpful in learning to understand and love them better), whether it be spotless clean and organized or crazy and yes, dirty. And as the hostess of a brother or sister, our home should be an honest and joyful expression of our service to Jesus. Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that you won't always make everyone comfortable- we are all so different. But you can't go wrong with doing your job as a wife and mother and welcoming all in the joy of the Lord.