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?