Hospitality–that lost art of welcoming someone into your home, planned or unplanned. Making them feel warm and cozy and invited in. Taking time out of your life to show someone Christ’s love and develop relationship with them. Instead we fill our lives to the point of exhaustion and have no room for anyone, in our home or our life. Instead, we stress about having the perfect house and keeping it a perfect way, so when someone “drops by” we barely crack the door open–or maybe even pretend we are not there. We spread ourselves so thin that the last thing we want to do is make another commitment, inviting them to our home and our messy life.
Isn’t this what Christ created us for? For relationships, to love others, to help them feel welcomed and cared for, to invite them in, into our house and into our lives. Not to shut people out and just carry on in the hustle and bustle of life, surviving one more day.
Making Room for Relationships
Last year I read a book called Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has Time by It seems like there is this mentality, that if you can be the busiest and survive, then you are a super mom, or that constantly being busy means you are successful. There is such a push today to do and be everything that moms are forgetting about balance and rest. Instead they are exhausting themselves trying to be the best and then putting other moms down for not being so “busy”.
I believe this is Satan using “success” and competition as driving forces towards business, and in all this business we lose the point of life–relationships. God created us to be in relationship, relationship with him and relationship with his people. He did not create us to be constantly busy.
Sharing our Messy Life
Have you ever gone to someone’s house for a play date or dinner and thought–“wow, do not touch anything, you might mess it up”? So let me ask, did you feel, welcomed in that home? Did you feel like you could relax and just connect with those people? Sometimes a little messy lets others know, “hey, I am not perfect either”. If we wait until our house is spotless, we look great, and we have a big beautiful house, we will never invite anyone over (well maybe once in awhile when life lines up perfectly), and if we never invite anyone over we miss out on deepening our relationship with that person, on possibly encouraging them, loving them, and allowing them to love and encourage us in return.
Nobody’s life, physically or emotionally, is always clean and tidy with a fresh bouquet of flowers on the entry table and home baked, zero calorie, amazing cookies in the kitchen -with no dishes to clean up- and 3 little children, spotlessly clean sitting on the couch reading a book. I’m sorry, that really doesn’t even sound like much fun. This is more how my life looks like regularly, someone who enters my entry way will see beautiful stairs – covered by piles of clothes, toys, books, and artwork that are on their way “up”, toys and shoes by the front door, blankets, random cups, books that were left out laying in the living room, a pile of dishes and no cookies in the kitchen, a cleared but sticky table to sit at and chat, and 3 children running around our “circle” screaming with excitement. That is my real life, so why get a headache trying to change it? This picture of my life shows, we read books, I have children, we are not perfect, we too are in this sinful fallen world. If we are not real, how can we expect others to be real with us, and if no one is real, how can we grow in relationship?
How to Foster Hospitality in Your Home
Hospitality begins with someone coming into your home. You either have to invite them there or they randomly show up. For almost a year, one of our short term goals in our family was to have another family over every week for a meal. Part of the reason why we did this is we were feeling lonely and unsettled, being fairly new to the area. Inviting people into our home allowed us the intimacy to develop relationships with other families. We also worked at inviting new families from church into our home for a meal after Sunday service, helping them to feel welcomed into our church home. If you never invite anyone over, you will never have the opportunity to practice hospitality.
Knowing that we will randomly invite people over after church or an outing or that people will randomly stop by, I try to keep the house presentable enough that I would not be thoroughly embarrassed when they come over. That being said, some people see a “cleaner” house than others, because I was having a more put together day, or I was not doing the laundry.
Serving a meal can be another stressful event to having others over, not only do you have to have a clean house, but you have to cook a healthy, delicious meal, clean up all the dishes (or hide them to pretend like you didn’t use any) before they arrive and then clean up everything after they leave. You might as well forget it–order a pizza, put the kids to bed early, and watch a movie. Really? Is that really what you want? What if we had someone over and made a meal for them, and had dirty dishes out? Would they look in disgust and never come back? or worse, would they look at your not-perfect house and think “she isn’t perfect, she isn’t amazing”. Is this our real fear, that people will not think we are amazing, that they will realize we cannot do it all? A lack of hospitality can be more than fear, it can be a spiritual issue as well. If this is really too stressful for you right now, what about coming up with some other ideas than serving a meal? Have dessert, just have people over to play, have a snack. There is not a written law stating, if you have someone over you must serve them a meal.
What Prevents You From Hospitality
Have you ever thought about what prevents you from hospitality?
For me, one is my lack of desire to “try”. It is easier if I just hang out with my kids in “my life” and accomplish everything I want to without going to the effort to put someone above myself (again, a spiritual issue). When I invite someone over, to make them feel welcome I must think about their needs, what they want to talk about, and then clean up afterward. My sinful nature would rather just forget about that whole ordeal. But when I put the effort in and try and I allow God to work through me, that is when I experience the life he planned for me. Another struggle of mine is serving a meal, instead of worrying about putting others first, I begin to worry about my pride. Will my meal be amazing, will it be healthy, can I make sure it is on time and the dishes are clean, what will they think? When I sit back, take a breath and relax, I realize that no one would freak out if I just served a frozen pizza or something simple… or if I left some dirty dishes on the counter. I remind myself, I am inviting people over to build relationship, not to awe over my amazing talents (or lack thereof).
What is it for you? Are you to busy to invite people over? Do you have too many commitments? Do you feel like your house is too small or too plain? Do you struggle to keep the clothes, toys, books, dishes cleaned up and want to keep that from others? Are you introverted and just seek alone time? Do you hide the messy of you and your life?
What if we allowed God to change what prevents us from inviting people over, welcoming them in, and developing relationship with them? What if we allowed God to humble us and share our messy life with others? Maybe we could change the world.