I would invite you over, but I hate my sofas.
I can't believe I just admitted that to you. I mean, it would have been just as easy to come up with another lame excuse like "with hurricane season starting in just two months, I hate to chance it” or "if we win the lottery, we might be in the middle of a move” but the truth is, it's really all about the sofas.
I'm not going to describe them to you here – for a couple of reasons. First, for all I know you just went out and purchased a set just like them and couldn't be happier. (You should have said something – I could have made you a great deal on the ones in my den!) Second, and more importantly, while my reason for not inviting you over is all about the sofas, this article really isn't.
What I want to do is explore the tendency we women have to put our lives on hold until practically every star in the galaxy aligns completely. And I'm not just talking about décor. Many of us do the same thing with our appearance. For instance, have you ever promised yourself you'll go to the next class reunion – but not this one, because you've gained a few pounds? Or did you vow to become involved in community service projects once your little ones started school (which gradually turned into "when they get out of high school”, then "when they graduate from college”, and finally "after everybody is married off”?) I'm not suggesting that some of our reasons aren't valid. All I'm saying is that more often than not we're just hiding behind them to keep from doing something we really don't want to do.
In my case, however, I confess that it's more a matter of pride. Thanks in part to multiple subscriptions to home decorating magazines I have this image in my head of the way I'd love my home to look, and that image does not include two ugly plaid sofas. On the other hand, my husband and I are fortunate enough to be blessed with a group of very wonderful, warm, witty, fun friends. Yes we could, and frequently do, meet at restaurants for dinner, but the atmosphere isn't nearly as conducive to relaxed conversation as in someone's home. What's more, I'm a pretty darn good cook, capable of pulling off a decent meal without pulling out my rapidly graying hair. You'd think in light of this astute observation I'd be hosting dinner parties every weekend – and yet…
In thinking about all of this I am reminded of a woman I knew back when I was a teenager. She was the mom of one of my closest high school buddies and in terms of style you wouldn't find her in any of the fashion or decorating magazines. Their house was small and rather nondescript, and the kitchen table was so tiny there wasn't enough room for the chairs to all fit without some of the legs interlocking the ones next to them. But I never once heard her apologize for the cramped quarters or the condition of her well-worn furniture. Nor did she ever beg off hosting a group of friends due to less-than-perfect interior design. In fact, some of my happiest memories are of meals eaten while squeezed in elbow-to-elbow around that table, and of football games watched on an old TV as we sprawled all over her overstuffed, comfy, yet decidedly mismatched recliners. Which begs the question, what if she'd waited to invite me over until she got "nicer stuff”?
For that matter, what if Martha had told Jesus, "Listen, it's not that I wouldn't love to have everybody congregate at my house, but this week really isn't good for me. The place is a mess and my rugs are practically threadbare. Check with me the next time you're coming through town. Hopefully by then I'll have gotten new drapes.” Just think of the sweet blessings she would have missed, had she chosen perfection instead of Perfection.
Of course I'll never have a chance to play host to such an illustrious Guest, but even so I should be more willing to open my home, especially to my closest friends. After all, when you've got plenty of laughter and good food, not to mention the pleasure of good company, nothing else really matters, right? So I'm picking up the phone right now and inviting somebody over for dinner this very weekend. In fact, I'm already looking forward to having them over.
But for what it's worth…I still hate my sofas.