Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To be honest, hospitality is probably one of the commands God gives to Christians that I find most difficult. Once upon a time in knowing that someone was coming over, I would be so nervous I would almost be at the point of throwing up - Would I be entertaining enough? Would the house look clean enough? (I have perfectionist tendencies - thus even at it's cleanest my house still looks imperfect to me - I see every little thing that's wrong), Would they feel comfortable enough? - Would the food turn out perfectly? you get the point - I'd be quivering to the bottom of my boots.

So how was I to obey the Lord & be hospitable while feeling so overwhelmed every time I invited someone to visit? I will admit that practice helps - the more you extend hospitality, the easier it is. Over the last couple of years I have had more practise & it has gotten much easier (out here we often have visitors for days at a time- sometimes weeks - it's impossible to put on a fake front with kids for more than a couple of hours, thus sharing the "real " us is inevitable). One thing that really helped me recently in my quest to be more hospitable was attending a ladies conference - at it I was blessed enough to attend the hospitality elective by a lady called Ella Meyer. Since I'm suspicious that I'm not the only one who feels like this (actually she described my feelings exactly, so I know I'm not too unusual;)), I thought I'd share some of her points as encouragement to those who, like me, struggle in this area.

* Hospitality isn't about entertaining, rather it is a freeing & a heart response. It may not be comfortable, but it is about opening your heart to bear anothers burdens. It is about relationships - caring & serving others within & outside the church family.

* Hospitality isn't about a beautiful home, rather it is about sharing our blessings from our Master. (What's mine is yours) - this I found particularly freeing - you see I live in an old house that although well built is still very much in late 70's styling - my least favourite era of decorating. I've always felt so embarrassed over this house & truthfully longed to have a lovely home like I used to have. I guess just knowing that this is what God has blessed me with at the moment helped - this last time of sharing hospitality ( we had 2 bible college students stay last week) was the first I haven't apologised for the decorating.

* Hospitality is about meeting the physical needs of someone & is expected of all the church family - with no grumbling & complaining - it includes strangers. James 2:15-16.

* Hospitality is a great opportunity to model & serve the Lord. It is about sharing your home/food/clothes/time with others.

* Hospitality is about growing relationships & caring for others - it's not about me & my concerns. The measure of a good night is whether relationships were enhanced or established. People don't remember the food, but they remember how they felt.

I know just realising that the person isn't after an extravagant experience - they aren't after perfection & it is more important to build relationships rather than have the time go perfectly really helped me to relax. I know from experience that when I've gone to someones house & everything hasn't been perfect, I haven't cared in the least - however had the person spent the evening hiding in the kitchen ( oh yeah - I've done that before), then I'd be disappointed about missing out on spending time with them.

So next time you're coming by, be sure you'd be welcomed here at Sunnyside anytime! - sure the house may not be perfect, the family may not be perfect & the food may not be perfect (although usually delicious)but I'd love to sit down & chat & build our relationship!
With Blessings,


bbmommy2 said...

You have described me in your first paragraph. I have some many of those same tendencies. When I know someone is coming over, I will get so stressed out over just about everything. I don't know why. When family comes over, they always enjoy themselves. I want to invite friends over and extend hospitality. This is literally a struggle for me all the time. I avoid talking with friends sometimes because I know they want to come over for a visit. It is so silly of me.

I am going to reread this post and take notes and pray for the gift of sharing my home and life with others.

Good day!

Christine said...

This was a wonderful post for me to read today. Thank you Renata! Blessings. BTW, I would love to sit in your kitchen and eat cake.

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

Hi Renata,
Oh yes I know exactly the feelings you describe and I can testify the more you practice hospitality the more relaxed you become. We had guests on the weekend - invited and unexpected at the same time and I am so thankful for my family because we all prepare for guests and help out when they are here. So train up those lovely children in the home arts and hospitality now, even though they are small. Our guests always appreciate that all our family greet them - the teenagers do not disappear into their rooms when people arrive - I always find this disconcerting when we visit others and the older children stay in their rooms when we are there and don't even come out to say hello. If you teach your children how to treat others you will be rewarded and the extra help you have means you can spend more time with your guests and you will dare to invite maybe two families instead of one or even cook something a bit more exotic on a special occasion. I'm now at this season of hospitality and I enjoy it so much because it is not just me working to have everything ready.
I think we are so much harder on ourselves when we see the homes of some of the other bloggers. The beautiful verandas, dream kitchens and stylish dinner sets. I tend to find myself apologizing for the weeds here - how crazy offering up an apology for lantana! And I'm terrible at accepting compliments - I am giving the credit to Donna Hay rather than just saying thank you! And you do know people are now deliberately decorating their homes in 70's style to achieve a cool retro look! So no need to apologize for your home! I would love to come and visit you - I love old houses but I do believe our families would so enjoy each other's company. I'd rather have good company in the presence of cobwebs! Do you panic over cobwebs when people are coming? - I Know I do with our high ceilings - another crazy thought!

And as for being prepared, when we lived on the farm my husband worked in town for a while and used to arrive home with backpacker hitchhiking young couples and announce that they were staying the night with us! I'm there smiling and welcoming our new German friends and having 'panic thoughts' of what my bathroom looks like and praying for an idea of how one chicken is going to feed us all. I tell you, pancakes filled with chicken in a cream sauce are a God idea! But in the end I always remind myself that people are more important than the preparations and the atmosphere of the home more important than the decoration! As the Proverbs say 'Better is a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf where there is hatred' and a 'dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.'

aunty sel said...

Hi Narn,
Thanks for sharing what you learnt at the conference.
I love coming to visit you!!! It doesn't matter what houses look like, I like to visit people for the company and the conversation.
Luv always,

Smilie girl said...

Oh this was good for me to read! I was getting myself into such a tizz about family visiting for a while that we've worked out meeting on common ground so we can enjoy each other.
You've learnt some great truths there. I think I'll have to pray and think on them to let them sink in.
And thanks for the best wishes for my family. It might get a bit worse before it gets better but we'll get there!

Saminda said...

Such a truthful post Renata! Beautiful truths. :) Thanks for sharing so honestly, and yes it's a difficult area for me too. Good things to think about. xo

Christy said...

Hi Renata.
Great post - thanks for being so open and honest. i now realise what a sacrifice you made when you opended your home to the five of us 2 christmas's ago! I hope you didn't "nearly throw up" that time!!! I LOVED spending that one night with your beautiful family! Kieren and I still talk about it!! ANd really - with the beautiful landscape your home is set amongst the 70's decor really doesn't matter! You are often on my heart...i really would love to come and see you again ...if you could tolerate my extended brood :D We had a ball! AND if you want to take a hike down south to the big smoke you are ALWAYS welcome here too :) xoxo

Mum-me said...

Sounds like that conference was great for you. I'd have to agree with all the tips you've written out. (There was only one time I felt our ordinary house and plain, simple food was not well received by our visitors - and I later found out that those particular people cooked gourmet-type meals for their family and served it with proper tableware and linen every night of the week! No wonder my hearty chicken casserole and practical polyester tablecloth wasn't good enough.)

I've always enjoyed having people around to our home and when we 'only' had two children we did a lot of entertaining.

After moving to ACT, trying to find new friends and having 4 babies in 4 years made having guests rather difficult, mostly because any hospitality we offered was declined because people thought it would be too much for me. Now I've gotten out of the habit.

Duckygirl said...

I had just been sitting here wondering if inviting over a new friend from my mom's group was a good idea. Wondering if my house is too this or that....such wonderful words for me to read this morning! Thank you :)


Shonni said...

Funny you wrote this...the character trait that we talked about during our Bible time today was hospitality verses loneliness. Hospitality is not my strength. I really feel stressed.
And, the reason it is funny is I will be having company A LOT this summer, and I'm really not looking forward to it. I know that I need to pray for a better attitude. And I appreciate your post and feel encouraged to stay focused on the relationships and serving the LORD through hospitality.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Renata....You and I must be tarred with the same brush.
I really feel God wanted to teach me to enjoy and stress less as He has made our home since we moved a never ending revolving door of visitors!
When I had the big "entertainers' dream house and massive kitchen we had regular visitors but now with a Beautiful Property but small One lounge one tiny Boring kitchen We are "always" entertaining,always opening our door to someone popping by!

So,Now I whip out my scone recipe,Piklets or butter some crackers with cheese and Tomato and Hope the kids Flushed the loo.
Deep down I still have moments of Oh no...But I am learning to stress less.

Jenn said...

Great points. I sure need them. I really fail at hospitality.

Camille said...

What a great post Renata!! Oh how freeing it is to realise that hospitality is NOT is opening your heart and your home to be of service to the King of Kings! If you give a cup of water in HIS name you have done it unto HIM!! How wonderful that thought is hey? :)

May the LORD bless you as you seek to be used for HIS glory!


P.S. Good for you for not apologising for your decor...yaay!! No one even's your warm heart that will make them feel welcome...that's what they will remember.

Helen said...

just loved your post... I love having people over for dinner - sharing a meal and getting to know each other. I have to say though I drive everyone crazy before they arrive with my desire to have the house looking clean and tidy - ... big grin!

cv said...

Truly amazing to read this! Ever thing on this planet is connected with each other..

Hospitality CV

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