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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Entertaining vs. Hospitality

About 10 years ago, the church we were attending at the time did a study called "The Fifty Day Spiritual Adventure." The whole church worked through the same daily devotionals, and the messages were centered around the weekly themes. It was a great way to get everyone on the same page!

During that "adventure," I was exposed to a new thought that was just brought to the forefront of my mind again last night. There is a HUGE difference between having people over and entertaining and having people over and showing hospitality.

How often do we not call and invite a friend to come for a visit, even when we know that the friend needs us? Maybe our houses aren't as clean as we'd like them to be. Maybe the kids are being a little wild that day. Maybe what we're making for dinner isn't company-worthy.


When did God ever ask us to be Martha Stewart? Some people naturally live in clean homes with spit-shined children who eat Mom's gourmet meals each and every night. But in reality, most of us have clutter that we battle daily, dust bunnies that seem to be reborn nightly, and dishes that seem to fill the sink as soon as we start running the dishwasher!

Isn't the more important thing just being available? Do our houses really need to be perfect in order to just share some time with a friend?

My friend Julie's husband left yesterday for a year's deployment to the Middle East. I saw her and her family at our kids' preschool program on Monday night and asked if she and her son wanted to stop by Tuesday for dinner. I figured a distraction would be good for both of them.... not that I didn't want her to think about her hubby, of course! But I didn't want her at home with just her four-year-old and her own thoughts. I'm sure that there will be plenty of days like that in the next year! But for that night, we would just be able to hang out together and chit-chat.

She took me up on my offer, and I was thrilled that my natural instinct to clean every nook and cranny didn't kick in. I was off from work that day, so I did a little bit of light cleaning/decluttering. But I didn't obsess over scrubbing the bathroom floor. Was it clean enough? Yep. Was I more worried about making things comfortable so that they could relax? You bet. Is this incredibly rare for me? UH-HUH! I'm the queen of perfection. Everything has to be in its place when people come over. But this time I made a conscious effort to just be relaxed so that I could offer a relaxed atmosphere to my friend.

I don't share this to make anyone feel bad. I certainly don't share it as a pat on the back for myself. I know that more often than not, I'm wrapped up in the details of food prep, cleaning, and other make-the-atmosphere-perfect-for-guests preparations. I'm hoping that I can keep an attitude of hospitality going as I invite friends and family members over. That way I can relax and offer some true refreshment for them.

Will you pray for my friend Julie, her husband Robert, and their son Jacob? Being four and having Daddy gone for a year will be quite hard, I'm sure. Your prayers are welcome!


chewymama said...

great post! the Lord has brought this theme up over and over for me and He's really been helping me relax about the house in the last few years. I still clean as much as I can but not to the point of obsession or nearly killing myself - its just plain impossible to have it perfect now that I have four kids. anyways, thanks for the encouragement!