“What we talk about when we talk about _________” is our series for June. Words and language have meaning and provide insight. What is revealed when we reflect on the words we say? Check out the whole series HERE.
I remember being asked on a “get to know you” questionnaire one time, “What brings you joy?” While other people answered “My job” or “My kids”, my first response was, “Having people in my home.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my kids too, but I sincerely mean it when I say I love having people in my home. For dinner, for coffee, for playdates, for absolutely no good reason at all. That is what brings me joy. To feed and nourish and create space — whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
We all have different gifts and different personalities, so it stands to reason that hospitality at home comes more naturally to some of us than it does to others. Some of us (ahem…me) get a strange thrill out of planning and decorating and cooking purely for the benefit of others. Even if it does mean we run around like an absolute maniac two hours before everyone is due to arrive. (Not that I’ve ever done that).
But if your idea of hospitality is a scene from Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens, I might beg you to NOT show up at my house.
Because here’s what you need to know about hospitality:
It isn’t about you.
It has little to do with you or your personality or your gifts or your home or your cooking ability. That takes some of the pressure off, right?
Hospitality at home is about the people you invite into your home and your life. It’s about the guest and her needs, not the host and how spotless her home is or how good the food was. It’s about caring for people’s basic needs to create a safe space. A place where people can cry, laugh, be vulnerable, and walk away knowing they are loved. Hospitality shouldn’t be draining. It should be life giving!
And here’s something else you need to know about hospitality at home (brace yourself because you might not like me so much after this): if you claim to follow Jesus, it’s not optional.
But here’s the other piece of good news. Hospitality at home doesn’t have to be complicated.
You see, hospitality at home can happen around a simple cup of coffee or a gourmet meal. It can happen in an immaculate mansion or a sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment. It can happen in the midst of crying babies, messy kids, piles of laundry, and to-do lists. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up my less than perfect home and I was the only one who truly noticed that things were out of place.
If you’re like me and you simply adore having people over (like your husband has to limit you because you’d have people over every day kind of person) then you probably don’t need much help from me.
But if this is new for you and it’s hard, that’s okay! Start small. Put on a pot of coffee and invite just one person over. Maybe someone you already know and connect with well. Go ahead and clean as much as feels necessary for you to be comfortable and enjoy your time. But make it about their comfort and their needs instead of yours. The first time might be hard, but the second, third, fourth times…they’ll be easier.
And yes, store bought cookies are completely acceptable.
By Amanda Boils
Amanda writes from her beautiful country community in Michigan surrounded by her husband and 2 small sons.