How to Open Yourself to Real Hospitality

They bounded into the parked car yesterday spilling Bibles and coloring sheets and discarded headbands onto seats and the floorboards and they were squealing and giggling and talking all on top of one another.

“Can we invite the pastor’s family over for lunch?  Can we, can we please?”

Little eyes and wide stares and bated breaths of anticipation hung over the back of my driver’s seat and my husband just shrugged his shoulders and put the decision all back on mine.

“Ummm….I guess so…” I trailed off thinking of the unswept floor and the finger printed door and the sink full of bowls and sticky plates I had thought were alright to leave this morning.

They scrambled back out the side doors and hurdled back across the front lawn in the shadow of the cross to find the pastor and ask. Joshua followed and I sat down and wondered what I had just done.

There was teriyaki chicken in the crockpot and it was nothing special. I was going to microwave vegetables and reheat rice and gracious knows, there probably wasn’t enough sweet tea.

But I said yes.

I said yes because I’m tired of saying that our tiny house isn’t big enough or fancy enough or just plain enough.

I’m over teaching my girls that something has to be perfect before it can be appreciated.

I don’t want to just preach hospitality; I want to really live it.

Which means I have to open the front door.  I have to resist the urge to apologize for the toys and the bikes and the incessant trails of leaf bits that follow the wake of my four children.  I have to embrace the now and stop waiting for some pin-perfect future that involves an actual dining area and enough seating for when a family of six invites over a family of six.

I thought I was doing that with Friday night pizza.  I’ve made that our night to have company. That’s our night to rotate through our circles of friends and our circles we’d like to know better, so we can embrace fellowship and build relationships.

We’d just had friends over this past Friday for the first time in a month and all our kids piled in the back bedrooms and made elaborate haunted houses we were forced to pause conversation for and tour.

It was loud and chaotic and made me think that we should probably put a hold on Friday nights during the winter when it’s too dark for them to take the crazy outside.

Because once again, I’m trying to fit a life into a ready-made expectation that’s just not feasible for the beautiful mess I’ve been given.

But it doesn’t ever occur to my kids that our house isn’t big enough or clean enough or that I might not be able to stretch that meal.

I told them I want to be more like Jesus, so I guess they just figured teriyaki chicken can be multiplied like loaves and fishes.  I guess they figured Jesus didn’t worry if someone’s home had a separate dining room or an eat-in kitchen; He just came anyway.

And isn’t spontaneity always the truest form of hospitality?  It’s not all fancy soaps and monogrammed towels and three-course meals on perfectly mismatched china.

Sometimes it’s paper plates and homemade pizza and clinging babies and magic cookie bars brought to share.

Sometimes it’s just saying yes when reason says no and opening the door and being real.

It’s saying “welcome to our home, we’re glad you’re here” and not apologizing for the life that’s spilled out all over the living room rug and the bathroom counters because that life is who you are and these people come to be with your people, not to be with your house. 

So I said yes.  It was wonderful and freeing and enlightening.

I think, from now on, there will be a little extra in that crockpot each week, but the sink will probably still be hosting dishes, and there’s really no hope for the floors.

How are you opening up yourself or your home to hospitality this holiday season? 

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