My husband and I love a good party. We work hard. Stay on task. So, when it’s time to sit back and relax, we take full advantage. We often joke about how good we would be at “independently wealthy.” We would never get bored.
I listened to a speaker recently give a presentation on hospitality. She listed several reasons why people aren’t comfortable hosting guests. And I was like, huh? From my single days in an apartment to my days now in the middle of nowhere, I’ve had an open door policy.
Do you arrive and my house is a mess? I bet if you’d help me for like ten minutes, we could make it a whole lot more presentable together. Is dinner not quite done? I have never met a person that didn’t know what to do with a spoon and a simmering skillet of yumminess.
There are few things I find more relaxing than turning on some music, preparing an appetizer (OK, often that just means a handful of chips), kicking Allie out of the kitchen and making dinner. Sometimes, when the patience meter runs high, we even cook together.
If the pot of chili ends up looking like a big batch, I instantly think of who I could invite over for dinner.
To me, hospitality isn’t about a formal presentation of our perfect life. Hospitality is me opening up my door to you. To every room of my house. And every room in my heart.
And what does God’s Word teach us about hospitality?
“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” I Peter 4:9
We’d been married a couple years, no kid yet, when we decided to conduct an experiment. For a year, we invited someone to our house for dinner. Not just family and not the same couple twelve times. A lot of our guests were co-workers.
One single guy brought a date. We ate dinner on our deck and enjoyed great conversation. A few months later, the gentlemen reciprocated our hospitality and had us over to his lakehouse. Another great evening, getting to know a new girl. Fortunately, I remembered they were different ladies.
Another time, a coworker who worked at a factory in another town had a few meetings at the company’s headquarters. We extended an invitation for him to spend the night at our house so he didn’t have to make the extra-long commute for these meetings. I was so excited to have someone stay in our guest room. I washed the sheets, put a book and a bottled water on the nightstand. As a finishing touch, I even placed a mint on the pillow.
When it came time for bed, the guy said he’d feel a lot more comfortable crashing on the downstairs couch if that was OK. Well, humph.
We hosted my husband's boss and his wife when the weather was cold outside. We had just finished the meal and were enjoying a glass of wine. Somehow, the wife broke her wine glass. And she was mortified. But reader, do you know how little I paid for that glass on clearance at nearby Williams and Sonoma? Maybe $3. And that might be on the high end.
Again, remember, it’s not about fancy linens and fine china. It can be. But not if that stresses you out. Hosting people is about creating a comfortable environment so you can get to know one another. Share an evening.
Hosting brings out the best in us. We genuinely want to know your story. I am honored if you feel comfortable enough at my place to open up the refrigerator and get yourself a drink. We want you to leave feeling pampered and relaxed. Belly full.
In 2006, we moved in with my in-laws. And our hosting all but halted. Because it just didn’t feel right to host our guests in someone else’s home. A few times, out of necessity, we had guests in from out of town. But all in all, we stopped entertaining and I missed it.
Then we found our place in the middle of nowhere. We designed our home and two areas of the construction project garnered the most attention. The kitchen and the back porch. Because we had serious plans to entertain again.
Last summer we had our first taste of nice weather in our backyard. Grilling, campfires, evenings spent listening to Tigers baseball on the speaker system. All from our back porch.
And I feel like a part of us came to life again.
Our neighbors are regular fixtures on our back porch. Just a few weeks ago we had one of our first relatively warm evenings. On the spur of the moment we grilled hot dogs over a campfire. We quick texted our neighbors and invited them to dinner. Although we didn’t have quite enough hot dogs for everyone so it would be BYOHD. Because who cares? It’s not about the hot dogs. It’s about relaxing. And being together.
I know God gave us this back porch. I can trace Him at work in the journey that brought us, a couple who likes to host, to this campground of a home.
The next time you meet someone new or talk with someone interesting at church, give some thought to inviting them into your home. We entertain single ladies, large families, couples whose children are grown. Something happens when you sit around the table together. For us, especially when that table is on the back porch, surrounded by nature. Your differences fade away and you’re able to focus on community.