Friday, March 30, 2012

From Hospitality Horror to Warm Welcome



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From Hospitality Horror to Warm Welcome

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” Ephesians 6:7

When I was younger and in the midst of raising four young girls, hospitality was something that literally terrorized me.

I hate to admit this, but if you came to my door unannounced, I might not even answer.
I might hide in the basement near the piles of laundry, needing to be washed, folded, or ironed (ironing is foreign to me now!).

Or I might have answered the door, flushed with embarrassment, as I practically tripped over myself to try and gather up all the mail, toys, files, everyday mess that so shamed me.

My mind would be flooded by destructive comparisons. I didn’t have a housekeeper…I didn’t have the money to spruce up my home…She was so lucky, she had a big fancy house, babysitters, housekeepers. No wonder her house always looked so perfect. This thinking led to an attitude of ingratitude, disdain for the many blessings I had—a beautiful home, my precious family, a cherished group of friends, food to eat, heat to keep us warm. The list goes on.

I wanted so much to have a welcoming home. But for many years, fear of judgment overtook my love for my friends. I truly wish I’d known then what I know with absolute certainty now. No one who is a true friend cares about the condition of my home. No one was judging me.

I can’t be certain when exactly the transformation occurred; when I broke free of the shame that bound me. It was gradual. But today I don’t feel any of this shame. (Well…I can go there, but I recognize it and put a stop to it pretty quickly.) I’m sure it had to do with coming to know I have a Father God who loves me deeply, unconditionally, even though He knows full well every good and bad thing about me. I’ve greatly reduced my perfectionistic expectations of myself. Mothering, marriage, life…it’s all pretty messy, whether it shows or not! And I have accepted the truth that my family and friends love me, piles and all.

So, now if you come to my door, I will open it. I may start to dart around a bit, straightening magazines or quickly trying to fluff couch pillows. But I’ll catch myself. And we’ll head to my kitchen table or living room, with a simple glass of water or cup of tea and enjoy one anothers company. Because that really is the point. We were made for relationship and being hospitable has more to do with being available than being admirable!

This blog was inspired by Karen Ehman’s (www.karenehman.com) online study of her book A Life That Says Welcome. Guest blogger Joy Fourney (http://gracefullmom.com) shares her tips for Short-cut Hospitality. And the question of the day is Do you have a simple idea or decorating tip?

Actually, I do! Though I am not much of a “do-it-yourselfer,” I have plenty of lovely vases, many of them garage sale finds that seem to change my whole home when filled with a few fresh flowers. I have lots of candles and candlesticks that add an instant warm glow to my home. And I am a decent baker. So I share my love through Irish Soda bread (see recipe above!), a really simple one bowl brownie recipe from the Bakers One Bowl Brownies (bit.ly/Hw7V0u), or my famous Lemon Bars. Matter of fact, I just whipped some up this afternoon.

How about you? What’s your hospitality history? Can you open up your door easily or do you dread when the bell rings and company arrives unannounced? How do you say welcome, simply?

4 comments:

  1. Your pass life is my present life. I thank God reading this blog is helping now. Praise the Lord. Elise, thanks :)

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  2. Growing up my father always wanted to "drop by" on friends...my mother would be appalled and taught me well... that we don't drop by nor do we like to have people drop by on us. As a housewife of the 50's she almost always answered the door with an apology for the way the house looked...I can remember as a little kid looking around thinking, what is she talking about...it didn't matter because with that act the seeds of shame were sown. We apologize, we are not good enough, we hideout, we don't go unannounced, we stash things, we panic when the doorbell rings, God forbid we may be exposed...exposed of what? Our humanity? Our frailities? Our imperfection...that others might see our mess which probably looks alot like their own...the mess that some hide better than others...Flylady calls it CHAOS...can't have anyone over syndrome...this made me laugh what a great acronym. And so true. Yet such a lie at the same time.
    But God is good and He is good all the time. He has released me for the most part and I feel a sense of freedom, Praise Him. When I feel the "chaos" of my mind and heart that blocks my natural gift of hospitality I know this is not from God...if I find myself spewing expletives when my neighbor rings or knocks I know this is not from my Father...if I run and hide because I am in my PJ's doing work at the kitchen table when my sweet 3yr old neighbor just wants to give me a dandelion...Lord let me answer the door and through your blessed Grace know that she will only see the beautiful smile of delight in her thoughtfulness.
    Let me know it is always you on the other side of the door Lord...as I am still a work in progress.
    God is so good and He sets us free from these shameful shackles that bind...
    This one is going on my refrigerator, Elise, as I take a deep breath and look forward to blessing the 17 guests coming next Sunday to celebrate His Resurreciton...may it not be about me, but about Him... xo
    “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” Ephesians 6:7

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  3. I resonate with this, as I am newly married and Josh and I are figuring out how to keep our own home. When we have guests over, I often have a panicky time of running around the house and making sure things are presentable (wonder where that came from). In reality, I know no one really cares if there is a newspaper strewn about my coffee table. I know our friends would love us anyway. I want to be a person who is open to hospitality at all times, and does not apologize for the mess. I love your statement, "Mothering, marriage, life...it's all pretty messy, whether it shows or not!" To be vulnerable to others means to be open about the messiness of our own life at times.

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  4. Also, love that you are burning our Christmas candle :) Josh will be happy.

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