I was running around feeling frazzled just moments before opening my door. Dogs were barking and my family was frantically trying to get dressed and out the door. The kitchen still felt disheveled from breakfast. Dirty socks were magically appearing on the floor. Sigh. Hosting this lunch seemed like a grand idea the week before when I had invited ladies over.
When I extended the invitation, I really wanted the experience to be a blessing to these ladies. I thought through the details of how I wanted to prepare my house so it would feel welcoming and to create a space where guests would feel comfortable.
I love creating an atmosphere for connection. It really is my love language.
But once the day arrived, I let wayward socks get in the way of my true intentions. I’m not proud of my perspective, but I’m pretty sure these words came out of my mouth (speaking loudly and firmly to no one in particular):
How can I possibly entertain when there are smelly stinky socks all over the floor?
As soon as I uttered that ridiculous question, I knew I’d forgotten why I was gathering women together in the first place. Rather than focusing those last few moments on how I wanted to bless these ladies and make them feel welcome, I found myself rattling off all the reasons I should never have volunteered in the first place.
Fortunately for all involved, I pulled my attitude together. I even successfully snatched the socks off the floor and tossed them down the laundry chute just before I opened the door. But you know what? While there are often things that don’t come together as beautifully as I want them to (such as that time when I discovered a pair of undies attached by static cling to the back of a towel in the guest bathroom), I still hope my guests feel cared about.
I clearly don’t have it all together as a hostess, but I am convinced that not being perfectly prepared or equipped is exactly what brings people to together in an authentic way. Genuine hospitality is about caring for other people.
Do you ever feel like you probably aren’t qualified enough to be a hostess? Do you rattle off your long list of shortcomings that discourage you from opening your home? Perhaps you worry about the state of your house before the invitations even go out. Maybe you’re not confident with cooking or cleaning or conversing. Maybe perfectionism or a list of imperfections frustrates you or prevents you from opening your door at all.
Oh, friends, I have felt all of those insecurities at one time or another, and often at the same time. You might not always believe what you can offer is enough, but God has given YOU gifts that will be a blessing to someone else. We all have areas where we might be more confident and others where we could use a little grace or creativity to pull it all together.
Even though our imperfections can bring people together, your God-given gifts are also an opportunity to really bless others. If you find joy in cooking, invite people to enjoy an amazing dinner. Give God the glory for what He’s provided. If you enjoy setting a festive mood, don’t hold back from delighting in every detail. God is a creative God and YOU are His daughter. He gives His best gifts, and we can use hospitality as a divine opportunity to His love shine.
What are your strengths and limitations when it comes to hospitality? How could you creatively use your gifts to be a blessing to someone else?
By Melissa Michaels, author of the upcoming book, Simple Gatherings (Click to get your pre-order gifts!) Releasing October 3rd from Harvest House.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
You know….I would have felt so at ease if I had been the one to discover the undies attached magically to the towel by static cling lol. Why? Because I would know you’re human just like me. I think the best gift I can offer as a hostess is a safe place where I’ll listen and direct my focus and attention on you. You may have to ignore some piles of paper and perhaps sign your initials in the dust on my coffee table, but (hopefully) you will know that my home is a safe place where you are welcome, loved, and cared about. I think that’s really one of the best gifts we can give friends who come through our door. Lovely post and your table is beautiful….will you come decorate mine?
Michele Morin says
“A divine opportunity for His love to shine.”
Breathing a deep exhale and making some important resolutions about my upcoming people-filled weekend. Thanks for sharing your stinky-socks-attitude change at just the right time for me.
Kathy W says
Your undies static cling made me chuckle, but also I fall in to the trap of wanting it to be perfect. Living with 3 dogs, 5 cats, on a small farm with a husband for whom neatness is not really a virtue, I have long struggled with this. My solution has been to have people over more often. The house stays tidier. Had a ladies brunch hoping we would have a monthly get together with others taking turns hosting. Someone said to me, “I thought about having everyone but my furniture is shabby…” etc. I asked if she noticed the threadbare spot on the carpet or the hallway needing new paint or the front of the wing chair. Her surprised ‘No’ said it all.
Btw, you helped me with some choices for our kitchen remodel two years ago. Appreciated your input and love my kitchen, thank you.
Pearl Allard says
Melissa, thank you so much for this hope-giving post! It’s a relief to know as we exercise our God-given gifts, it really is ok that our unavoidable imperfections are exposed. One puts our minds to rest (no doubt she’s human), and the other wrests our attention toward our Creator (no doubt she’s gifted). I’ve never thought about those two things being two sides of the same coin. Thank you!
Melissa Michaels says
Thank you Pearl, they are indeed two sides of the same coin. God is a giver of gifts and grace!
Betty Griffin says
Thanks for the blessings !!
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Melissa, I appreciate your encouragement to open our homes to *be* a blessing, even in the midst of a little hubbub and disarray. Your undies-under-the-towel story is priceless. While we are hospitable, and often host family and friends for dinners, I will admit to wanting to be prepared. I wish I were more spontaneous in my hospitality–more willing to open my home at any time that someone needed to visit, share something deep, or even have a cup of tea. But no: I’ve got my forty-million books on the kitchen table, and wonder if they would understand. But your emphasis here on hospitality versus perfection is wonderful encouragement. Thank you so much for sharing!
PS I don’t think I will ever set a table as artfully though as yours depicted here. Sigh . . . But at least my books aren’t on our dining-room table! 🙂 And I’d have to buy cupcakes that looked that gorgeous too. Baking is not my gift. 🙂
Melissa Michaels says
Thank you, Lynn! I’m glad you feel encouraged. I do think there is a time and place to practice each type of hospitality, spontaneous and prepared. Some of us are probably more inclined to do one or the other, but both are opportunities to be a blessing. We can all grow in areas we aren’t inclined. For those of us who tend to prepare, we can shift our mindset from preparing to impress to preparing to bless (and then let go of trying to do it all perfectly.) Honestly, I would buy the cupcakes, too!! And probably a pizza, let’s be honest :).
Erin Whitmer says
I love this: “Genuine hospitality is about caring for other people.” This is where we so often get distracted. We focus instead on all the little things in front of us, most of which are the minute ways we try to impress and give the impression that we have perfection mastered. I struggle with this daily. I want to be the woman who opens her home because that’s where my heart is. And then my head gets in the way and I’m thinking of all the ways I can be better and do better. But if we stay focused on our hearts we can’t go wrong – no matter how many socks are on the floor.
Thank you for sharing!
I so needed to read this! I struggle with all of this – I want so much to be an open door, where people are invited and free to come in and enjoy time together. Yet I let all of the things you mentioned keep me from it. Today I am going to plan a thing. It will happen. Thank you for the encouraging words <3
Melissa Michaels says
Yes, plan a thing, girl! You will be a blessing!!
Jill Richardson says
Beautifully said. I do a talk sometimes on hospitality, and I love it when I tell them–it literally means “having love for strangers.” And anyone can do that! I love your reality check.
Julie Garmon says
Love this post! Me too!
I actually prayed for the gift of hospitality. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I think God’s answering my prayer.
Melissa Michaels says
I love that, Julie!! <3
Beth Williams says
Hospitality isn’t about a perfectly clean & tidy house. In fact most women will enjoy & understand a little”dirt” or disarray here and there. It shows us that you’re human. We just want to come in share a cup of tea & enjoy some company with good friends. Jesus never worried about a perfect home or meal. He cared more about your soul & spending time with you. For me this is the Mary/Martha dilemma. Will we sit and enjoy time with friends or fret over food & how the house looks.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
This is an inspiring piece – a reminder to use my gifts for His glory. I love cooking. There are lots of other imperfections in my hospitality but I can use my love for cooking for His glory. Thank you for sharing your heart!
Rebecca L Jones says
“Genuine hospitality is about caring for other people.” May I quote you one that, I love it. I was always good at hosting, I guess a little too good at times, I cleaned house. prepare the lunch, made copies of Bible studies, and taught the Bible study. It got to be too much, so now I blog.