When my husband was ordained in 2014 I longed for hospitality to be a regular feature of our lives once we moved into a our new parish. The past eighteen months have been a whirlwind of different experiences and growth opportunities and I am glad that welcoming people into our home and lives has been a major part of that. My desire to encourage and embrace hospitality has only grown, but some of my ideas and expectations have changed as a result of the last year and a half.
Hospitality is better as a way of life rather than a series of events
If you desire to live a life that welcomes others I have found that it is better to consider your home a blessing to share with others at all times, rather than for certain 'events' that you organise.
My husband works from home so we have people in and out of the house for meetings and meals all the time. This is something that we have encouraged from the beginning of our ministry (I'm sure we could find alternate options if I had a problem with it!) and although it is important to have times of solitude and relaxation having a mindset of an 'open home' has helped me to embrace those opportunities that come even when it isn't very convenient for me. Biblical hospitality is about loving others and welcoming them into your life whether it's convenient or not; people don't always need love and support just when you've deep cleaned and have a pot of home-made soup on the boil. It's easier to truly welcome people in if you're mentally ready for it at any time rather than only when you're hosting certain events.
I clean more, but my standards are lower
If you're ready to welcome people at any point it is unrealistic to imagine that your home will be in a tidy condition all the time...because, you know, real life makes mess and home magazine spreads are fake (does anyone else ever wonder what they do with all those lemons piled artfully around?!). Although I do organise my cleaning around the days we have most people in the house I generally keep the house as tidy as possible (using THESE strategies) so it's under control throughout the week.
However, I've also lowered my standards. The more you do hospitality the easier it is to let go of the feeling that you have to have to present your perfect side and you're more able to open up to people with the real you, even if you haven't vacuumed your carpets for a fortnight.
Someone will always arrive when you least expect it
On the day you stay in pyjamas until 10am and the kitchen is a bombsite someone will come to the door. Every time.
Things will get ruined
With lots of people coming and going it's inevitable that things in your home will get ruined. Glasses will be smashed, tea will be spilt on your new sofa and your floors might get scratched. I'm not going to pretend that it's never annoying or inconvenient but at the end of the day it's just stuff. Hospitality teaches you to hold material things lightly but invest in people's lives deeply. Choose to look on that stain or scratch as a joyful reminder of relationships deepened.
Don't get over confident - planning is the key
At the end of last year we hosted a meal for twelve. I was really busy in the week leading up to it and I didn't give it much thought; we'd done it before so I kind of assumed it would just happen. That was until an hour before when I realised that I had to set up tables, bring in chairs, iron table clothes, cook a meal and look after two children while Josh was in a meeting - panic!
I'm a big fan of keeping hospitality simple but that doesn't mean it doesn't take work and planning. People are unlikely to just turn up at your house unless invited and the dinner isn't going to cook itself. Read up on ideas and plan your strategy. You'll be much more welcoming if you're not in a blind panic!
I am certain I have so much more to learn about hospitality in the years to come and I look forward to having fun in the process!
For more posts on Simple Hospitality click HERE