When I was a child, one of the highlights of my life was when company came over. Sure, Mom did the typical thorough cleaning routine beforehand, but it was always fun having visitors. Mom was a busy teacher, so we did not entertain often; and, even as a little child, I wondered why we did not have more dinner parties. Fast-forward twenty years: now I know why!
Ever since I have been the lady of the house, the one in charge of cleaning and preparing (and the one to be judged if the house is not spotless), I have developed a significant discomfort for hosting dinners or inviting couples over for games and dessert. It has been a significant source of frustration for Eric as he grew up with a very hospitable mother who was also a tremendous cook!
Thankfully, she told Eric that she was not a good cook when she was a new bride and that he should not compare his new wife’s cooking to hers. I appreciate her warning him! ~smile~
As a newlywed, I believed I would get to a point in my life where I was comfortable enough with my cooking, the state of my home, and my entertaining abilities to fling my doors open and share my life with others. However, my hospitality skills have not changed much since I was a newlywed because I have not pursued growth in this area.
Fast-forward some more: there I was, sitting in the church nursery, sharing about my hospitality fears when a friend mentioned that she had recently finished a book on hospitality – Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock… and she graciously agreed to loan it to me. I doubt she had any idea how long it would take me to make a dent in it! It has been in my care since November and I just finished chapter 3!
Still, it is already kicking my complacent rear end and the conviction is uncomfortable. I had no idea how central hospitality is to our Christian lives. The authors lay it out in a way that makes complete sense, and, until now, I had not connected the dots quite this powerfully.
Hospitality is Love In Action
One phrase from the book which caught my attention in a major way is “Hospitality is love in action.” Since hospitality is motivated by love – for God and others – opening our homes to bless others is not the same as entertaining. Being a professional entertainer requires more stress, attention to outward appearances, and is not primarily motivated by communicating love to those in attendance.
In my heart, I have always fused hospitality and entertaining together, but my heart is beginning to grasp the differences. And, you know what? There is so much less stress involved when your motivation is to create a peaceful, uplifting atmosphere rather than to craft the event of the season! I do not have to be burdened with pressure to create something flawless and fabulous. I simply need to trust God’s direction, seek ways to love my guests, and let the fellowship happen.
Also, my worth is not tied to how my company reacts to my food, my furniture, or my jokes! ~smile!
How Do You Feel About Opening Your Heart and Home?
Maybe you live in a dorm and have not quite reached the dinner party hosting stage of life, but do you welcome others into your space? Provide snacks? Create an atmosphere that is warm and inviting? We had a spiritual life director on my dorm hall who did just that! In fact, she was so caring and hospitable that she eventually had to post a sign on her door letting us know she loved us, that she was studying, and that she would open her doors again shortly. (Bless her heart!) As a junior nursing student, I am not sure when she found time to study, sleep, pour into all of our lives, and date her (now) husband. She was a beautiful example of showing Christ through hospitality, even before she had her own home.
Maybe you are struggling to find five minutes to yourself between work, school, church, dating, and other activities that demand your time. Perhaps the thought of hospitality makes you want to crawl under the covers and weep. (I can relate!) The great news is hospitality is not limited to our homes. Hospitality is a way of life and an attitude. You can be hospitable in Walmart! If you are running low on time, think of a few quick ways you can be hospitable to the world around you.
Maybe you have the time and the means to open your home; but, like me, you have shied away from it for so long, you are not sure where to start. I think I am going to have to hold my breath, decide, invite, and choose to make hosting a part of my normal life. One day, I hope to look back on this season and say, “Now, what took me so long – and why was I so afraid?”
In thinking about all the times I have resisted Eric’s requests for company to come over, it is a wonder I have not been more motivated to pay forward the amazing hospitality which was extended to me by some precious ladies in my past – hospitality which literally shaped me into who I am today. I will talk more about those unforgettable women on Wednesday. For now, I have more reading to do! Wish me luck! ~wink~
How do you wish to use hospitality to bless others now and in your future home/marriage?