A few years ago, we had friends stay overnight with us. We live near the airport, and they had a morning flight, so it was a great excuse for a sleepover. We held each others’ babies, we sat in the kitchen and talked until midnight, and we shared crackers right out of the bag. Their room had clean sheets on the bed and an avalanche behind the closet door. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink and overflowing right out of it onto the counter. We had vacuumed up the dog hair, but left coats slung over the banisters and a package delivered earlier that day smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor. I wasn’t even home when they arrived!
It was less than ideal, but it was our everyday. We were in the middle of a very busy, burning-the-midnight-oil kind of week, and they stepped right into the thick of it. The thing is, I didn’t bat an eyelash and neither did they. We hugged, big belly-to-belly hugs, and laughed and dove into deep conversation, right there in my real.
The mess didn’t matter because in that moment, actually being with my friends mattered more. Something had begun softening in my heart, and the thing that drove me to craziness before company came was slowly dissolving.
At a conference I once attended, one of the keynote speakers was addressing the topic of hospitality when she said something that literally took my breath away. “True hospitality,” she said, “is when your guests leave your home feeling better about themselves, not feeling better about you.”
Those words left her mouth and punched me right in the stomach.
So often I am a hot mess before guests arrive. I whirl around the house, scrubbing and cleaning and arranging. I plan my meal so everything’s ready upon their arrival. I snap at my husband and plunk the kids in front of the TV so they’re not in my way. Do I want to create a lovely, warm and welcoming atmosphere for my guests? Of course. Do I want them to leave feeling better about me? I did…
…but no more.
No more will I blame a small home for my lack of hosting. No more will I allow the mindset of perfection to rule my behavior. No more will I use my introversion as an excuse for not inviting people into my home. My guests deserve more from hospitality, and so do I.
If we consistently shy away from inviting friends over, we start to give them the idea that they’re not welcome in our homes. And if they don’t feel welcome in our homes, eventually our friends may not feel welcome in our hearts.
No, I am ready to release. Ready to release sky-high expectations and carefully plotted menus. Ready to release my heart from the prison of perfection. Ready to release my family from the pressure cooker I’ve so often placed them in as we prepare for guests. My heart has let go of those things, and it feels ready to receive.
As we enter the Easter season, quickly followed by the end of school and start of summer, there will be dinners and gatherings, get-togethers and parties. In the midst of them, may we be mindful of our motivation. May ‘good enough’ truly be.
May our doors fling wide and our smiles spread wider. May we practice true hospitality.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love that quote…It echoes the greatest commandment and God’s call to put ourselves third….1. Jesus 2. Others 3. Me…..or JOY 1. Jesus 2. Others 3. You. If God calls us to do that in every other avenue of life, why would it be any different with welcoming people into our home? Even the Proverbs 31 woman (who is seen as the ultimate in being a godly woman) does not run about picking up her home before company comes. The only person who does that in the Bible is Martha and what does Jesus tell her? Martha, sit at my feet like Mary. When we sit at Jesus’ feet we learn that it’s not about us, but about Him and about others first. What better way to show others Jesus than to put them before ourselves and how our home appears. Loved this!! It’s only taken me 25+ years to get to this point. Anna, you’re way ahead of the game!!
That was a really good example that you used, Martha/Mary.
Thank-you for reminding us of them
Have a blessed day,
Joanne Peterson says
Thank you for pointing out JOY, Jesus, others, yourself. I’ve used it for prayer, but not for hospitality. This focus fits right in with hospitality and welcoming people into our homes to experience the love of Jesus living through us. Not worry about our homes, but how we make them feel loved and valued. Very wise, loving and insightful my friend.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It’s kind of hit me that JOY applies to so many areas of life….why not hospitality? Maybe your wisdom and insight is rubbing off on me??
((Hugs)) sweet friend,
Summer Rae says
Dear Miss Anna,
True hospitality is an art form that I have had to learn a lot about… Thank GOD for the wonderful woman that I call “Mama” and her incredible gift of hospitality. She has shown me that nothing is mine and that it is all GOD’s. When you truly understand and wholeheartedly believe that, it changes your view on things entirely. I feel so blessed to be able to serve the people GOD puts in my life each day! “When you are blessed build a longer table… not a higher fence.” Thank you for sharing such an encouraging post showing we can serve just as we are, right where we are! I pray your day is blessed.
This side of Heaven,
Kay Lake says
Thank you, Miss Anna, for your great thoughts on hospitality! And Miss Summer Rae, did your “Mama” give you the quote “When you are blessed build a longer table… not a higher fence.”? That is really good and thought provoking!
Bless you all. I am still learning.
Summer Rae says
She did not; I saw it somewhere once and it was technically, “When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.” But, I believe anything good I have is a blessing from the LORD… the quote has stayed with me and it is a good reminder! We are all, always learning… I pray that you have a blessed day.
This side of Heaven,
I love that quote! I’ve never heard it. “When your blessed build a longer table…not a higher fence”. Thank you!
Michele Morin says
Anna, the beating of your hospitable heart is sounding a rhythm with the Spirit’s working in my own heart in 2017. When I chose my #OneWord for this year, it was embedded in Paul’s words from Romans 5: “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”
I love thinking about God’s wide open door and the truth that when we open our door in brave hospitality, we are God-like and winsome and put the gospel on display!
Josephine Broderick says
I want to say thank you for opening my eyes to the true meaning of hospitality. Knowing that to be open to others with my heart and wide open doors and not perfection. God’s Blessings!!
Amy KW says
I just love this. Everything about this. Hospitality is so, so, so much more than our home. It truly is a state of being, a state of mind, state of heart. It’s not the surroundings, it’s the intent of service, feelings of belonging and care and acceptance and love.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and your heart today!
It’s amazing how you got beyond making everything just so. I’m going to try to get better at that.Thanks for sharing that it is possible if we turn our focus around.
Have a blessed day all,
What a beautiful sharing. I so appreciate the phrase that true hospitality leaves guests feeling better about themselves not about us. Thank you! Let’s choose true hospitality and let God reigns in our relationships not our own agenda. Shalom!
I absolutely live this. My mom had meltdowns before entertaining and it took me a long time to realize what was important. My family has helped me relax and enjoy having people in our home by helping prepare and setting a welcoming atmosphere for guests. No one really cares about the details that used to seem super important. They are coming to visit, not inspect. Great piece of writing!
Joanne Peterson says
Thank you for pointing out the goal of people feeling better about themselves and about us. Whole different mindset and approach to hospitality. Welcoming and loving on the people than about how good we are.
Rebecca L Jones says
I think that that is a great definition of hospitality, for them to be feeling better. So often, we are wrapped up in our concerns we miss the true moments that count.
Lazondral Nelson says
You just don’t know how this ministered to me! Thank you for your transparency!
Jane Gray says
Thank you for this. Our house is equally chaotic and sometimes I have been made to feel that I am offering sub-standard hospitality by people who live in model homes that never have dirty clothes or dust! But you are so right. It is our hearts that matter and our attitude to others that really counts. Maybe some people actually feel more welcome in the chaos because they know there is no pretense and that they can be real too.
Sarah Quezada says
Love love love!
Nancy Ruegg says
Wow. The quote you shared from that keynote speaker is a powerful one. I wish I’d heard it years ago! Too often my motivations have been skewed to displaying my best self when hosting guests. God help me! I want to focus on THEM! Thank you, Anna, for the wisdom and challenge of your post.
I DO want people to feel better about themselves after they have been in my home. I LOVE THAT QUOTE!
Great read! Thank you.
I have been there and done that so many times Anna. I love the thought of my guests leaving with a better feeling about themslves and not necessarily with a better feeling about me. What a kind loving attitude. I have put my family through the pressure cooker too when having others over. In fact a friend just ended a conversation with me, about 30 minutes ago, saying she’s frantic about cleaning the mess in her house for tomorrow’s guests. I sent her the keynote speaker’s quote and will remember it for myself when I’m inclined to spaz out next time guests are arriving. I love your spirit that show up in your words “May our doors fling wide and our smiles spread wider”. Thank you for this timely word.
Aboloye Omotola says
I think I can be hospitable for a period of time but I tend to break over a long period of time. I mean, I’ve had situations when friends come around for some reason to stay for a couple of days or weeks but ended up staying for months and as some are leaving, others are coming and we quickly run out of basic provision in the house as a result of this. I have tried not to worry about it but it’s not so easy. What should I do? How can I be hospitable and be a better friend?
Beth Williams says
Great story. We should worry less about the mess and more about the heart of other people. It’s time we invite people into our messy lives and shower them with God’s love. I live out in the country, so it is hard for people to come to my place. When I visit others’ homes I don’t worry about the state of the house as much as the company I’m sharing.
Naomi Fata says
Really hits home when you wrote if they don’t feel welcome in our homes they may not feel welcome in our hearts. Hospitality for me is a continual work in progress. I
Pam Gentry says
Really liked this. Something to think about and remember. God bless you as you have blessed others.