One of my favorite things to do is have guests over. Whether it's a weekend writing retreat, an impromptu cookout, a bridal shower, a sporting event on television, or a holiday gathering, I am always the first to offer our home and extend the invitation.
|A summer gathering in our backyard|
|Watching fireworks over the Mississippi|
|Decorating Christmas cookies with our neighbors|
|After we decorated the cookies, we went around the|
neighborhood delivering cookies and singing carols
|Halloween costume party and trick-or-treating|
|Memorial Day Weekend camp out in our backyard|
There are a few reasons I love to host. First, growing up, our home was the hub of activity. My mom has nine siblings and my dad has eight, this made for some large family gatherings on both sides. Christmas, to me, isn't complete without fifty people in the house playing games, filling the buffet table with scrumptious food, and tripping over a hundred shoes by the front door. I don't remember a weekend that there wasn't some relative visiting or a day that someone didn't "pop" in to say hello.
The other reason I love to host is because I'm an extrovert and I get energized being with other people. If it's been a while since we've had someone over, I start making plans to host another gathering.
And, third, I love to host because of Romans 12:13. "Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
Do you see that word? Practice.
When I was a young wife, I would get so overwhelmed hosting events at my house. I would put so much time, effort, and stress into each gathering, it made me cringe every time I thought about having people over, and then I would shy away from extending invitations.
But then I heard a speaker talking about Romans 12:13. She said, the admonition to practice hospitality is just that: to practice. It won't ever be perfect. Your house won't be perfect, your food won't be perfect, your conversation won't be perfect--in short, you're not aiming for perfection, you're simply practicing. And each time you host an event, you learn something new to apply next time.
When I started looking at hosting events as "practice," it changed my entire perspective! I started to relax!!! I started to ask others to help with tasks. I stopped making excuses for the unfinished trim in my kitchen, the fingerprints on my windows, and the chipped siding on my house.
I stopped trying to be perfect and just started being me.
Have you ever gone to someone's home, or attended a party, where everything appeared perfect? I have, and you know what I thought? "I can't invite so-and-so to my house! What would she think about the unfinished remodeling projects, the store-bought food I serve, or the stains on my carpet?" So I never extended the invitation. I know there are many women I could have been friends with, but I was too intimidated to have them come over because my house could never measure up to theirs.
But the reverse is true. I've gone to people's homes that aren't "perfect." Maybe the hostess isn't a great cook, maybe she doesn't care if her bookshelf is dusty, or that the kids' toys are strewn about the living room. Maybe she has a pile of clothes in a laundry basket on the couch that need to be folded. You know what I think about that? "Finally! Someone I can relate to. If she comes to my house, I can be real and honest and not worry about what she's thinking. I can focus on getting to know her and not stress out about the details."
The truth is that most people don't judge your home, your food, or your clothes. If they are a true friend, they have come to see you. If they are judging you, then maybe it's not a relationship to pursue.
|See that dirt? We were in the midst of a huge landscaping|
project (which still isn't completely finished two years later...)
|No one cared if the backyard wasn't perfect|
|Hosting a meal with friends and family in the midst of|
our kitchen remodel--yes, that's a plywood counter...
I can guarantee you that our friends don't come over to see our house. They come to spend time with us.
A sign in a friend's home says it all.
I love practicing hospitality, because I've learned how to relax and let the imperfections be a part of the experience. One friend said that he enjoyed coming over on Thursday nights to watch basketball with my husband last winter, because he was able to see the process of our remodeling project from start to finish.
If I waited until my house was perfect, I'd never have anyone over. If I tried to clean every square inch of my house each time I hosted a gathering, I'd never offer to host again. I would have missed out on hours of laughter, deep, meaningful relationships, and blessings too numerous to count.
Your Turn: Do you enjoying hosting? Why or why not? What stops you from inviting people to your home?
Next week, I plan to share some tips for hosting a stress-free gathering!