Hospitality – it’s about the relationships
We really enjoy having people in our home for a meal, to play games, to sit on the back deck and enjoy our killer view of Garden of the Gods or … just because. In our first 4 years of marriage, we lived in housing larger than 500 square feet for only a cumulative 6 months, and one of the hardest things was not being able to very easily entertain more than about 2-3 people at a time. We were so grateful one year ago, when the opportunity to rent a great place (including a great deck and a large, fenced-in backyard) came up. We took it, and among other things, were excited about the prospect of having others over to our place.
Unfortunately, playing the part of hostess can sometimes bring out the worst in me. The day our company comes, I tend to kick into what my patient husband calls, “task mode.” Task mode is not all bad – it’s good to get things done and get the place ready for having guests. I really do desire to create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable and relaxed because the house is clean and “put together,” and because the meal was tasty. However, I tend to go overboard and try to do more than I realistically can in the time I have to get ready for our guests. Going overboard in that manner has a ripple effect – my kids and my husband pay for it because I become more worried about the tasks that “need” to be done than about caring for them. My guests pay because I am thinking more about the tasks than how I want to be an encouragement and blessing to them while they’re in our home. I am sometimes stressed and harried right up until the time the doorbell rings, which is not good for anyone involved. In short, I end up (without intending to) making it about me and everything I think needs to be done rather than about continuing to care well for my family in the midst of preparing for guests and about the actual guests who are coming.
Thankfully, things have gotten better in the last 6 months. One day while I was in a stressed-out flurry of getting things done in anticipation of guests coming, my husband gently reminded me that having others over is about relationships. It’s not about the house being exactly in the state I would prefer it would be. It’s not making the most incredible meal that could ever be served (while the kids were ignored most of the day because I was meal-prepping). It’s about the relationships. It’s about wanting our guests to leave feeling that they were encouraged and blessed while here because of the conversation, the laughter, and the sharing of lives together.
As I mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to invite people in a home that is clean and somewhat picked up. But I’m finding that it’s equally as important to figure out what I need to let go of. I have 2 small children and now much of the time when people come over, my house looks “lived in.” Because it is lived in. I am not going to banish my kids from the majority of the house the day we have company to prevent (gasp!) toys from lying around or a bit of dirt here or there. I am not going to spend all day cleaning, organizing, and cooking while my children are completely neglected. I try hard to not kick into a type of “task mode” where my husband doesn’t want to approach me because he doesn’t know if I’ll snap at him or order him to join into the preparation effort. It’s not worth it – if I become a person I don’t like and “punish” my family for having company, then I need to stop inviting guests over.
But, for the sake our entire family, I don’t want to. Our family loves people. We love sharing life with others. We want our kids to be others-focused and to learn to bless others when they are in our home. So, that leaves me with just one choice. I need to let go of those unnecessary things that I sometimes feel have to be done (which, in reality, don’t really need to be). I need to, in the midst of accomplishing the necessary things, seek to continue to love my family well. And I need to be ready to love and encourage those whom we invite over.
Yes, I think I’m going to choose to do those things.
And why? Because I agree with my husband. Having others in our home is about the relationships.