People give us furniture. I’m not entirely sure why, but they do. Because of this most of the furniture we own is used, old, and mismatched (maybe that’s why people give us furniture). We’re super cheap so we don’t see much point in buying new furniture when what we have is fully functional.
Awhile ago a friend from my ward came over to my house on fairly short notice so we could practice a duet together. As she was waiting for me to finish printing out the music she sat down in my lime green rocker and made herself at home. After a few minutes she said, “You know, I really appreciate your house.”
I smiled and asked her what she meant. She went on to explain that she doesn’t have super-nice matching furniture, or artfully painted walls, or family portraits in nice frames on every wall. She sighed, and patted the arm of the rocker and said “yep, I feel right at home here.”
I found the conversation interesting because it was coming after the holidays where there was a string of Relief Society activities held in member’s homes rather than at the church building. Without fail every home we went to was tastefully, and expensively decorated with matching furniture and framed portraits. The conversation with my friend told me that I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly inadequate about the state of my house.
To an large extent, it is a problem of size. The only houses large enough to accommodate the whole Relief Society are going to be big expensive houses, owned by affluent ward members. On the other hand the only ward members willing to volunteer their homes for such gatherings are the ones who feel confident that their homes are fit to be seen. In that way it becomes a self perpetuating problem. Since everything we see looks like a Pottery Barn catalogue, we begin to believe that anything less isn’t good enough.
I want this to stop. So I’ve quit giving my house an extra special cleaning for the visiting teachers (we vacuum for the home teachers, but that’s because they’re allergic to cats). If my house is clean enough for family it’s clean enough for everyone. I’m going to have a weekly activity at my house (humanitarian aid quilts) and I’m not going to kill myself trying to fix the ratty cat-scratched curtains before the first meeting.
I hope women from the ward will come and sit in my lime green rocker (with a missing button cover) and feel a little bit safer letting other people into their lives, and their homes. Maybe then we can all start feeling safer letting one another into our hearts.