Twice in the past two weeks, I have been reminded of the importance of hospitality and community.
The irony is I’m nine months pregnant. Not exactly the timing I would pick for this lesson, but maybe that’s part of the point.
Last week, we had family in town for Christmas. With me being two weeks from having a baby, I was a little overwhelmed by the thought of a family of five staying with us, with my due date so close.
But our time was really wonderful. Our kids played well and we made amazing memories. They left Saturday, and I thought about how glad I was that we flung our door open wide, blew up air mattresses and made everything work.
Sunday, I had plans to take it easy, maybe do a few loads of laundry, some writing, and work on my forthcoming book release.
But then, I got a text from a blogging friend who was unexpectedly in town with her family (who I had never met) asking if we wanted to get together for lunch.
“Yes” was the only option. Though I was physically still pretty worn out from the previous week’s company, I knew that seeing them would be such a gift.
Instead of going out to lunch, which I knew would be tough, not be as relaxing or as fun for our six kids, I invited them over to our house. I warned them that the state of my house was chaos, but that as long as that was okay, we would love to have them over.
Why do we so often over-compensate for the state of our homes?
Of course they didn’t care about our house. They didn’t want to come over to see a dust-free mantle or a spotless living room.
We spent more than two hours together and our time was rich with conversation. We kept lunch simple — just cold cuts, fruit, and chips. The kids played and everyone enjoyed one another’s company.
When they left, I was again reminded that hospitality is not about the condition of our homes, but the condition of our hearts.
Hospitality is about saying yes.
Hospitality is about honesty.
Hospitality is not about perfection.
Hospitality is not about fancy food and linens.
And so, with birth just around the corner for me, and a new year for us all, I am thinking about hospitality in 2015. Life can be so busy; it can be easy to miss out on opportunities to demonstrate hospitality.
But let’s not miss those chances.
My prayer is that I will be a woman who always flings my door open wide and invites others in, no matter the condition of my home or craziness of life.
Because community matters more than my floors.Leave a Comment
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I was just surveying my “post-Christmas” house in clutter and some chaos and was debating about inviting dear friends over for New Year’s eve (we rarely make it up till midnight lol). Guided by God’s prompting and not my pride, I invited our friends and am overlooking the state of my home. Yes, as you said, hospitality is about the state of our hearts not our homes. Thank you so much for this very timely reminder!! Prayers and best wished on your upcoming arrival!
“Because community matters more than my floors.” Yes! Thank you for this. I feel because of the encouragement from posts like yours and books like The Nesting Place, I’ve been much less crazy with my expectations for my home. But I always need a gentle reminder, especially after the holidays. I need it constantly ringing in my head so I can break myself totally free from the bondage of seeking perfection. May the birth of your sweet one be quick and beautiful 🙂
Ivy Corbett says
Thank you for the reminder. Awesome testimonies of God’s grace in the midst of opening your home and heart. I am encouraged in this goal for the new year. I know it has always been a blessing to others when we invite them over – God gives us many opportunities to hear this! I am always surprised by the deep impression left upon others when we do such a simple thing as have them over for a meal. I think so very few open their home to spend time with others. Everyone is too busy. I have to remember to seek God’s grace in the midst of the mess, the tiredness from work, etc. I long to be that kind of blessing to others.
Lisa votaw says
Proverbs 4:23 “keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”. As I read your post I thought how often I’ve said no to hospitality that God presents and yes to the hospitality that is convenient or the hospitality that “I want”. This then causes me to miss the chance God presents for his fellowship. I need to start keeping my heart better in line with Christ. I don’t want to miss his gentle printings. My prayer for this next year Is that I open my heart to him and condition it with time in his word.
Thanks for sharing this! I actually try to not clean my house TOO much when people come in hopes they feel comfortable in our home and feel like they can easily reciprocate. Obviously I don’t let the house be nasty, but if there is some laundry folded in a basket but not put away, or the counter isn’t as clear as I want, then I don’t worry about it.
I am really going to try to make an effort to go with the carefree approach.
Happy New Year and best wishes to you for a very healthy and safe
Augusta Muthigani says
Yes hospitality is about our hearts and Smiles.I am inspired by your thoughts!!
Have a Blessed New Year!
Jenni DeWitt says
I’m really no good at hospitality. It’s been on my mind this week though. We have some complicated health issues in our family right now that will hopefully let up in June, so I was thinking maybe I’d give myself some grace. Give things time to settle down here and then make it my 2016 New Year’s resolution to be more hospitable. I could work my way up in 2015 – practice hospitality whenever we can manage – and then in 2016 really break out the big guns. Fling those doors wide open as you say. I’ll be counting on (In)courage for my pep talks and helpful reminders that hospitality is a great way to show God’s love!
I understand. but im still cleaning today. lol #addictedtoMartha #noclutter ill try to balance
I used to be horrible at hospitality but after I changed my mindset from the one I grew up with, my door is open all the time and we have lots of visitors and I love it! This summer one of our visitors (a newlywed) commented to me that she wishes she was more open to hospitality like me, something that just never occurred to me. I still prefer one or two families at a time vs. an entire party but I changed my mindset to not really caring how my house looked to be open and welcoming to guests. I often have spur of the moment guests so this really helps. The only time I turned down guests was the day I went into labor with my 4th baby. Actually I was preparing for them to come over (a last minute thing) when I realized I was in labor and had to have my husband cancel and I delivered my daughter 2.5 hours later.
In all honesty it has been my husband’s very welcoming ways and friendliness that has opened my heart and mind to better hospitality.
Nice, but unfortunately, some people we invite into our homes, do examine for dust & judge the furnishings. I offered to host my work Christmas party a few years ago. I cleaned, the house, baked, decorated, etc. A few weeks after the party, I found out that my boss was critiquing my hosting skills & my house, in general. It really hurt me & made me not want to ever offer to do this again.
Joanne Peterson says
An older friend’s mother mentioned to me that hospitality can be just a glass of water in welcome when people come over to visit. That statement took me back a notch and caused me to think.
Do they feel welcome? Most are interested in feeling welcome and the other things are frosting. I’ve done some really unique things for a “party” or just a cup of coffee or tea outside if the weather is nice. I have a friend who always makes popcorn, and we sit and visit and the popcorn is always gone. We know we are welcome!
Life is about those relationships not about a clean home. BUT, I do love a clean home.
Susan Gruener says
I loved this! It’s not my house that I usually am worried about, but having the right kind of food…and especially my cooking… I love what you wrote about the ‘heart’ and I do want people to feel comfortable, at ease and peaceful in my home.
Happy New Year!
Wonderful message. We opened our home to family at Christmas and had some comments about how small the house was to entertain that many people. I thought it was wonderful, though! I wish more of my siblings had been able to fly in and then we could have really been jam-packed! 🙂 I love to have friend’s and family over and I vow to do it more this coming year.
Beth Williams says
Thank you for the nudge to host people. I find it hard, not because of the state of my house or anything, but because of location. We live out in the country not close to anything or many people. This past year I did “host” family one at a time to spend the night with us when our dad was in hospital.
I want to do that more often so as to spare them the expense of a hotel room and for time to get to know them better.
Have a blessed New year! Prayers for a healthy baby!
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Yessssss. LOVE this! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Sister Sarah says
Georgia, my cat, agrees. She is very considerate about leaving her toys around the house. We both agree with you. My house is not home and garden perfect and I like it that way.
Ruth Huffman says
Thanks for your inspiring article. I have been in ministry for 46 years as a Pastor’s wife. I think the Bible commands us to be given to hospitality. it seems as though it doesn’t happen often enough in our homes in today’s society. When my husband was in seminary in 1969, I went into labor in the middle of a bridal shower with 40 girls from the college in our tiny apartment. God blesses hospitality…our houses should not be museums. Our stuff belongs to the Lord. We have lots of love marks in our home to remind us to pray.
Suse Fish says
I wish I were more able to be hospitable but I’ve realised it’s just not my strength. It’s not the getting the house immaculate thing; it’s more the being physically exhausted by having people around. I guess it’s an introverted thing? And I do like things tidy, so letting it all go when friends with kids come round is stressful for me.
But I would love to be the sort of person that you are! Lucky xx
I love this, but that’s probably because I’m biased! 🙂 I feel like hospitality is SO VERY important, and probably more important than preaching or teaching…. People want community, they want to be loved, they want to feel like they are special. That happens best in a home. Obviously it doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be welcoming! When I was a young mom (many years ago) other young moms would want to come over and spend time with me. I told them they were more than welcome, and we’d have a cup of coffee or tea, or possibly even lunch, and sometimes they’d even help me fold the laundry! Did they care? No! Because they wanted to be a part of a community where they were loved. Keep up the writing on hospitality, it is a lost gift inf the church these days, and needs to be revived! 🙂 BTW, we still have people over… alot!