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On New Year’s Day we played a rousing game of Sardines as a family, the game where someone hides and everyone else finds them and hides with them. It brought me face to face with the state of every closet in my house, and with my own messiness. Again. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve come to accept my disorganized, messy true self. (Somewhere around Child #3, when we lost all semblance of control.)

That means I spent most of my life trying to be someone I’m not.

My life has been spent in the company of neat people. My mother is organized. My three sisters are organized. My husband is organized. My first- and last-born are organized. I’ve occasionally—for short periods—passed myself off as one of them, but the moment anyone lifts the curtain of my life just a little, I’m exposed as a fraud. So I’ve begun confessing it, even to people I’ve barely met.

What has it meant to admit my messiness to myself and others? It means I’m free to learn from all the organized people around me. I can relax, instead of running after them, trying to keep up. (It also means my house is messy, just as my room was messy when I was a kid.)

Best of all, being truthful with myself helps me be true to the person God created me to be. He knows I’m not organized, but still He chose to give me four kids with chaos in their wake. He gave me the gift of hospitality but not administration. These gifts were not accidental; they were divinely intended. That knowledge frees me to open my front door and host, despite the permanent pile that resides in one corner of the dining room. And next to my laptop. And in my bedroom.

Hospitality also spurs me on to learn what I wasn’t born knowing. It gives me a good reason to be neat, which is just the external motivation I need, so that even neat people will feel welcome and cared for here. And, I have to say, it would be really nice to uncover a few more hiding places for next New Year’s game of Sardines…