A List Maker's Life: Hospitality: What Does It Mean to You?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hospitality: What Does It Mean to You?



A favorite painting has been displayed in each of our homes since we were married.  When it was professionally framed we chose a saying from Hebrews 31:2 to caption the art work. Maybe we are entertaining angels unaware.  The notion of hospitality has always intrigued me.

Early in our marriage attended a class where experienced women mentored young married women on the importance of prepping our home, hearts, and dining table to welcome others hospitably.  Every week we were treated to the most delicious meal plans, cooking tutorials, delightful conversation starters, and beautifully set tables.  It was really quite a gift and I looked forward to opening my home so graciously someday when our dining room table and grocery budget could accommodate the demands of proper entertaining.  Hospitality took on the form of event planning in my heart and mind.

Pinterest served to raise the bar higher. Setting a great thematic table and using only photo worthy serving dishes became an important part of my expectation for inviting others to visit.  Someday we would be ready to play " hostesses with the mostesses," but for the moment it was too much to try to keep my counters cleared, desserts in the freezer, groceries on hand for the three course menu plans I filed away from my class, and seasonal place settings ready at all times. But, if I am truly hospitable that would all be in place for any one who might happen to stop by at any time.  Right?  The reality was our small home didn't have enough table space to even invite our parents to dinner and good luck finding 8 matching glasses to set a lovely table.

I gave myself permission to believe someday was acceptable, after all hospitality isn't my gift


Yet.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans kept reminding me to pursue it. 

And.
8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. 3 John opens our eyes to the importance of inviting our small group in even if all 16 kids have to snack on a giant picnic blanket on the living room floor.

Last fall we found ourselves in a difficult situation when our house sold faster than we could make a decision on a new home.  We were welcomed as a family (of 6!) by a couple who could easily have considered us strangers for the little they actually knew about us.

Yet.
They shared everything. 

And.
They always welcomed our conversation. With their limited "free time" they made us feel like we had all of their attention as we worked through figuring out the next best move for our family. 

My view has shifted. Hospitality doesn't require a party planner, a table cloth with candles, 8 matching forks, or the perfect dinner playlist.  It might just be an open door, attentive conversation, eye contact, and an environment intentionally created to feel a bit like home.  It may look like chai tea and dress up clothes at the table - a table which isn't loaded with appetizers and (gasp!) might have breakfast crumbs under it. 

It is not my gift can not be my justification. Our family is wrestling with what it means for us to practice hospitality.  We are considering how in addition to being a haven for relaxing and refueling for our children, how our children might recognize the importance of welcoming others to relax and refuel in our home.  We don't know how it will look, but we are looking for opportunities to practice true hospitality.  We want to expect less of our house, our food, and our decorations. Instead we want to expect Love to show up.
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