One of the greatest blessings in my life is sharing our home with others. Sharing a meal, a conversation, or just some dessert, or a walk in the park. No matter how we do it, hospitality is a blessing–one I’ve learned to love sharing with others.
But I didn’t always think of it as a blessing.
Initially it was scary. I felt vulnerable. What would I say? What would we do? What would they think of our home, the food, the conversation. What if they were bored! I made excuses. I put it off. I even made my husband make the invitation! Hospitality terrified me.
(I’m shy. I really am. Okay, maybe I’m just insecure!)
But we kept doing it . . . and doing it . . . and doing it.
And then I realized something. And it was revolutionary!
I hate parties. I’m horrible at small talk. I get that horrible pit-in-my-stomach feeling in large social situations. But in my home it is different. It is smaller, more intimate, more personal. I can relax. I’m okay in small groups. (In fact, I prefer them.) In the right setting, small talk gives way to something deeper–true, meaningful communication. And that is what my soul craves.
Yes, I have to make it through the first few minutes of pleasantries. But my husband is there. He is the master of small talk. Of asking questions. Of making others feel at ease and important. I’m so grateful for him.
I can tag along. Gradually I start to relax. The conversation becomes deeper. The fellowship more meaningful. And instead of feeling drained, I find myself being filled.
And that is the wonder of hospitality. It doesn’t matter whether you serve roast turkey or pizza. It doesn’t make a difference if you use china or paper plates. People are starved for meaningful relationships–for communication that goes deeper than texts and Facebook and a “How are you,” “I’m fine” exchange on Sunday morning.
It doesn’t even matter if my house is clean. (I’m still working on letting that truth sink in; it may take a while!) When I open up my home, I’m opening up myself. I’m showing someone s/he is important to me. And everyone wants to feel valued.
Perhaps that is why Peter mentions hospitality in connection with brotherly love:
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (I Peter 4:8-10a).
Hospitality is an act of love. Love is an action, remember? It grows as I act on it. And love is serving. As I serve, I show I care. As I care, I learn to love.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
(Stay tuned. Next week, I’ll talk about some simple ways to show hospitality you can implement no matter how crazy your life or home is at present.)