Hospitality, part 1

1 Peter 4:9

“Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” (NET)

“Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (NLT)

I’ve been thinking about hospitality lately.  According to Dictionary.com, the word “hospitality” means “1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers; 2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”

I used to think there were certain people who had the “gift of hospitality”, which meant their home was always clean and tidy and they always had fresh baking at the ready.  Which meant that I did NOT have this particular gift.  However my perspective has shifted in recent years.  For the past 5 years we have been opening up our home on a weekly basis for our house church group (my husband and I have housecleaning down to a science).  I used to get stressed if everything wasn’t practically “perfect” and would feel self-conscious when there were dirty pots still sitting on the counter.  But I don’t really worry about those things anymore.  For me, opening up our home has become much more about sharing in the lives of others than about how everything “looks”.  My desire is for people to feel comfortable and welcome in our ‘space’.  That they would experience grace and love.

I don’t get nearly as stressed out as I used to.  I think part of that has to do with the fact that I am much more comfortable with myself than I used to be.  For the most part, I’m no longer worrying about what people might think and if they will accept me.  I know I am accepted and loved and I am learning to accept myself.  With that new understanding comes a more relaxed approach.  It is much easier to be gracious and warm to others when I’m not busy berating myself for not having my house in perfect shape.  I can focus on the other person and value them rather than focusing on myself and my faults.

This past weekend we hosted friends from B.C.  Even though I had met them only once at a swim meet last November, our family opened up our home to them.  They had a need (hotel rooms in Saskatoon are very expensive) and we had a room and a bed so they stayed at our place.  It was such a wonderful weekend.  I am so glad we could share our lives and get to know each other better.  Each of our families face similar challenges and it was such an encouragement to know we are not alone in our ups and downs.  I felt ‘knowing’ empathy for my friends and gained a fresh perspective of my own situation.  They are wonderful people and I hope to be able to visit them in B.C. (whenever we get out there next).  And to think that if I had been too self-conscious to invite them or if I had spent the time together worrying about the state of my house, I would have missed out on something wonderful and awesome.

Those are my thoughts for now, but I’ve got more thoughts brewing about this idea of hospitality.  I hope to share them later.