Every six weeks my hairstylist invites me to sit down as she offers me a cup of coffee. She carefully wraps a towel around my shoulders and we start talking about what is new since we last spoke. We chat about everyday life at home. We share the challenges of picking paint colors, creating art for the walls and arranging our home to work for our families. We laugh about being the type who would probably clean the house for a housekeeper, if we had one. We talk about how we love to invite others into our homes and churches and how we love to make the experience special and meaningful.
We confess to each other that if you stop in our house on short notice, our heart is to welcome you into the imperfectly lovely, everyday chaos of pets and family. But when we invite you over, we will enjoy blessing you with a special evening that might include a clean (enough) house, good smelling candles and a simple but pretty table set for you to enjoy as we sit down to get to know each other over a simple but tasty dinner.
It is wonderful to find a kindred spirit who understands you so well, a friend you can talk to and share life with — one who conveniently also happens to make your hair prettier at the same time.
As I tip my head backward into the sink filled with warm sudsy water and shut my eyes, I start to relax and take a deep breath. We talk about more than just homes. We share our faith, talk about our work and families, our churches and ways we can bless and impact others around us.
As she washes away my growing number of gray hairs with the promise of a beautiful new auburn color, we take off the masks and let down our guard and laugh about all the things only your hairdresser knows about you. We share our attempts to stay young while admitting we are not feeling as young as we used to be. We confess how hard it is to adjust to being moms of teens and young adults and the ups and downs of navigating marriage in mid-life years.
As she snips away at my hair trying to shape it into something more presentable, we talk about cutting out extra things from our life and the challenges we face along the way. We talk about the sacrifice of loving and ministering to broken people and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We continue to chat while chunks of my hair fall to the ground and more pieces of our hearts are revealed. We talk about letting go of our old ways, and striving for growth, being changed and what God is doing to reshape us as women.
Most of what we talk about comes back to the heart of sharing our lives and the love of God with others. She dries my hair, sprays on some shine and finally I feel like I am ready to walk back out into the world refreshed and much less frazzled looking than when I walked in. As I schedule my next appointment we exchange words of excitement about what God will do next in our lives. She sends me off with a wave and a smile and off I go, ready to tackle the rest of my day.
It becomes clear as I head back to my car that my hairstylist turned friend practices gracious and heartfelt hospitality, right there in the salon. While we both love sharing our life with others through opening our home, hospitality is a matter of the heart. Hospitality is setting the tone for a relationship more than it is about the actual place the relationships are formed. I’ve never been in my hairstylist’s home and she has never been in mine. While opening our home or preparing a meal is a gift we can and should offer to those God places in our life, what matters more is that we serve others by opening our hearts to show interest in people. Our desire should be to make people feel welcomed and loved no matter where our paths cross.
Perhaps our end goal with everyone we meet should be to send them back out into the world a little less frazzled, a little more understood, and feeling noticeably more loved and lovely so they are encouraged and excited to see what God is up to next in their life! That is the true gift of hospitality.
What are some ways you extend hospitality outside your own four walls?