Ladies in red lipstick gathered for afternoon card games sharing cups of nuts and mints; young wives considering a purchase as demonstrations are done in kitchens with gadgets and goodies. A table set in cloth napkins, matching table service- all to serve a multi-course meal carefully planned and beautifully presented. I never considered these events to be moments of hospitality. Such hosting often found me at a loss, unable to see myself making this a regular event in my home life.
My personal inadequacies in this area, real or imagined, have proven a challenge over the years. Holidays, birthdays, or my husband's own desire to just have a few people over tend so send me into a discontented frenzy of doubt, dread, and to-do. We don't live like most people, nor did we have entertainment in mind when we purchased our home.. but then, there is where the point lies. Is it hospitality or is it entertainment?
The notion in my head that has plagued me so many years is a notion of entertainment, not hospitality. Let me share this by Nancy Twigg:
I'll never forget what she said. It was so simple, yet so true: "When you entertain, you bring honor and glory to yourself. Showing hospitality brings honor and glory to God."
Think about it. Pride can easily sneak in when you entertain. The dinner you serve shows off your cooking abilities. Everything is clean and neat so guests are impressed with your home and homemaking skills. And, if the evening is enjoyable, everyone assumes it's because of your talents as a host or hostess. Why, all this focus on yourself can quickly lead to an inflated ego if you're not careful!
Hospitality, on the other hand, is not about impressing anyone. It's about being yourself and making your guests feel comfortable to be themselves. It doesn't matter if you serve frozen pizza or if dust bunnies are scurrying across your floors. Through your warmth and humility, guests feel better about themselves and closer to God for having visited your home.
This makes complete sense to me. The discontent and lack of ability I was struggling with was due to the idea of entertaining; something completely contrary to my character and to the environment of my home. From this realization came a new outlook on hospitality and a healthy peace with it.
In my home, hospitality means welcoming, comforting, encouraging and accepting another in in order that they feel the warmth and security our home is built upon. It is not necessarily a gathering, though it can be.. it is not necessarily a celebration, though it can be. It doesn't even have to be in my home. Hospitality can be what we bring to others, stemming from our home and reaching out to theirs.
While a slight panic still rises when the thought of company crosses my mind, it doesn't linger long. My home is a place of welcome.. as it is, without pretense. No one is turned away or left in want, but invited to stay- linger a while in the simple things. When I leave, I take a piece of home with me to share with those who cross my path- or those whose path I seek out. Hospitality isn't flashy or labor-intense. It is the heart of a home shared and ready to accept.