The phone rings and I hear her say, “I just wanted to give you a heads up. I’m gonna pop on by real quick.”
Dirty dishes get hidden, clean laundry gets tossed BACK in the basket, and out of the corner of my eye I see the stain on the couch cushion.
Ding Dong. (I’m not name calling, that’s just the sound of my doorbell.)
I rushed over, flipped the cushion, and as the story goes, “When, what to my wondering eyes should appear? A stain bigger than the first, Oh Dear!”
(I took a little creative license on that.)
Then there’s the time we invited a couple over for dinner.
Any food preferences?
“Well, we don’t eat a lot of meat.”
I pull out my cookbooks (this was before Pinterest) and choose a meatless dinner option.
I spent hours on a mushroom cheese layered something or other (that I’d never made before) only to watch them PICK OUT the mushrooms.
Welcome to my life.
In the spirit of giving, let me offer you some advice.
Don’t be me. (Have I mentioned I am a work in progress?)
3 Hospitality Mistakes I’ve made
1. Focusing on Perfection
House perfect, couch perfect, outfit perfect, perfect child, perfect marriage, perfect platter full of perfection.
“This? I just whipped this up.”
Liar Liar Mushroom casserole on Fire.
People get nervous when they walk into a perfect home.
“Don’t touch anything. Not even the perfect seashell soap in the perfect guest bath. Dirty hands are better than messing with the Feng shui.” (No judgement zone. Feng shui anything that makes you happy. God is Love. The End.)
When I’m focusing on perfection, it becomes about ME instead of We.
I have to keep my intentions in check.
Am I presenting this to invite others to SHARE in the beauty or to PROVE that I’m worthy enough?
Holly Gerth says, “We’re called to bless, not impress.”
Can blessing someone involve a beautiful table, a glorious meal, and perfectly shaped soap?
Of course. (Just give back up soap for people who are too afraid to mess it up. Me.)
I appreciate the time and care people put into creating a home that represents what they love and I strive to do the same.
But don’t be like me and stress about perfection over focusing on connection.
2. I’ve got this.
Otherwise known as:
Lies I tell my guests instead of asking for help.
My hair’s on fire, the rolls came out looking like deadly weapons, and the dog left “a treat” on the floor.
Everything is under control.
Have a seat in the other room and listen awkwardly while I swear under my breath.
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Give your people a J.O.B.
They came to your house to BE WITH YOU.
Ask them to pour water in glasses, taste the gravy, stir the soup, alphabetize the cheese platter, or dial 911.
Some of my best stories have come out of kitchen conversations or incidents.
How did blood get on the ceiling?
If they don’t want to help?
Get better friends. (Just kidding. Well, not really.)
3. Money = caring
Have you ever paid $11 for a vanilla bean or spent your grocery budget for the month on one dinner party?
How about buying all new dishes because you didn’t have a matching set?
Providing friends and family with laughter and meaningful conversation is more than a vanilla bean could ever hope to be.
Sitting at a table with chipped mismatched dishes creates moments a set of matching dinnerware can never replace.
I refuse to believe the amount of money I spend on you equals the love I have for you.
It’s just not true.
Do you hear me?
The amount of money you have DOES NOT equal the amount of love you are able to pour out into others.
1 Corinthians 16:14
NIV: Do everything in love
ESV: Let ALL that you do be done in love
ISV: Everything you do should be done lovingly
No matter which version you read, none of them say “spend money to prove you love somebody.”
Do what you can with the Love of Christ instead of trying to compensate with overpriced vanilla beans.
What about when you’re the receiver of Hospitality?
I’m glad you asked.
I love giving gifts. It’s my jam.
The best gift you can give someone who’s shown you hospitality requires 2 things.
- 5 minutes of your time
- A willing heart
Easy enough, right?
Write them a heartfelt letter.
Not a text.
Don’t tweet them or update your Facebook status about it.
Take 5 minutes and write a heartfelt letter thanking them.
Be specific. ( More than “Thanks for feeding my face. You’re great.” )
Think about how much you love to get REAL mail that isn’t the gas, water, or electricity bill.
I always ask The Husband, “Anything good in the mail?”
Usually, the answer is, “Nope. Just bills and catalogs from companies we don’t order things from.”
Be the reason someone smiles.
Let whoever extended hospitality to you know that it mattered.
Whether you are the giver or receiver of hospitality, my prayer is that you welcome people in to your home and heart with thanksgiving.
2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for HIS inexpressible gift.
What is your favorite way to show hospitality?