Friday, October 05, 2007

A Long Ramble on the Hospitality Highway!!

I am going to be writing some things over the next few weeks, that aren’t my usual fair. You could call these musings, ramblings, etc. As I post them, PLEASE feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the subject. There has been a lot of things going on in our lives and the lives of people we know. These “things” have made me think.

The Gift of Hospitality

What all does this gift include? I know some people that it means that their house is decorated and all matching. They have put much time and effort into the ambiance of their home. They have the perfect little touches here and there. I do believe that some people have more of a gift in the area of making it look that way. =)

To some people it simply means that their door is always open. If you show up and they are eating dinner, they make room for you and get you a plate. They will quit whatever they were doing and sit and chat with you.

To some people it means having a long list of people to invite over every “Friday” evening (or some other day). They may be formal or informal, but this is the way they practice “hospitality”.

To others, they can’t have anyone over unless everything is spotless. They would be too humiliated or embarrassed if someone came over and something was out of place. I am going to tell a true story because I don’t believe this person even remembers me or would ever see this.
“I will call her Jen. Jen’s house was drop dead gorgeous. It could have been in a magazine. They had built it and she had that knack for decorating. It was one of those houses where the curtains, wall papers and furniture were all purchased so that they coordinated. At Christmas time it was breathtaking. Her tree went up the whole 2 stories in the living area where they had a cathedral ceiling. There was another friend of mine who I will call Sue. Sue and Jen knew each other and Jen kept telling Sue that she would invite them over. However, Sue and I lived about 30 miles away and it just never happened. I had been in Jen’s house before and told Sue about it. We were going over near Jen’s house to see a Christmas display. I suggested we (Sue’s family and mine) go to Jen’s house and Christmas carol. I knew that she would invite us in. That is exactly what happened. She gave Sue the grand tour. There was not one thing out of place. Now mind you, they had no idea we were coming. We just showed up on their door. The children’s bedrooms were all perfect and beautiful. No personal things on the wall or dressers. After we got back downstairs, someone commented on how perfect everything was. Jen’s daughter jokingly made a comment on how her Mom would have a cow if she had seen the towel on the floor in the upstairs bathroom. Jen did just that. She almost had a nervous breakdown in front of us because she thought a towel had been on the floor and we had seen it. Is THIS hospitality?

Is it a combination of these things, or is it something totally different?

Then there are all the different things that can happen when people are in your home. I have a friend who calls me “Couch Cautious” because I don’t let the children put their feet on my couch or climb over it, etc. By the way she says this in much love and even playing. I do not take offense. What happens though if you invite people to your home and their children are into everything and not very gentle with anything? What happens when you have little ones sit at the table so that their spills will be contained, but one of them joins the adults anyway? What is the proper reaction when someone spills grape juice on your carpet? What if you have a guest or guests that come and stay for a longer period of time (like 2 weeks) and they are not the easiest people to love or get along with? There are lots of things that can happen.

In our flesh we often want to react. I used to be horrified if someone did not let me know they were coming and showed up on my door. My house was a mess and I felt humiliated. I would apologize and scramble around to get a place for everyone to sit, etc. One friend finally told me that she did not come to see my house, but to see me and that I needed to relax and enjoy the visit. I took those words to heart. I also decided then and there that I needed to be better about picking things up regularly and not let it get so bad. My house now has yucky carpet on the living room floor and cement floors everywhere else. So, if someone drops something on my floor, it really is no big deal to me. I clean it up the best I can and let it go.

What if your guest rubs you the wrong way? What if they are truly annoying and not nice… what do you do? What is the Christ like thing to do? In the flesh we want to rear up and let them know they are WAY out of line. =) At least I do. The verse that keeps popping into my head is Phil 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Part of me wants to quote that verse to them. (Yes, the Lord is still working on me and I really need it) That is really hard to do when they are in your house and on your last nerve. We need to pray for them, ask the Lord to give us His love for them.

What about guests who stay really late and you are ready to go to bed? Do you send them packing? =) We used to have several college kids who hung out at our house. They were there several nights a week and would stay really late. We used to tell them to lock the doors when they leave and then go to bed. Was that rude? Was that the wrong thing to do? Could you do that with everyone? We have really good friends in Florida. When we visited their little church, they came to our house to talk to us that following week. We did not know them prior to this. They did not go home until 1 or 2 in the morning. =) We still give them a hard time about that. To be honest, we ALL were enjoying the visit and did not want it to end. We just like to tease them. =)

Let me hear your thoughts on this subject. Let’s hear some real life stories of what happened in your life and your home. Think about the home you felt most welcome in… what made you feel that way? Was it the house? Was it their attitudes? Think about the place you were most uncomfortable in. Why did you feel that way?


LadySnow said...

Thank you for bringing this up. A lot to think about.....

Joni said...

To me the gal "Jen" is not living. Life is messy, it just is and if you are constantly trying to make the outside appear perfect than what happens on the inside? It is neglected.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula said...

Thanks for the post. I have always strived to have Jen's house, but don't want the stress being perfect. However, I've never even come close to having Jen's house. From the farm in KS to a dirt yard in WA, we always have dust in the house. It's just a fact. I agree with letting the youth lock up when they leave. They must feel very comfortable in your home. Great post, Marci. Is this a result of those classes you took awhile back?

Patty said...

Love this post Marci and I truly hope you do more of this sort of thing. I think for me, hospitality has more to do with making a person feel welcomed. My house is so far from being the magazine quality thing and to be honest those houses that are that way are often the homes that make me feel the most uncomfortable. They are not real, not like what Edgar Guest talks about in his poems about what makes a home. Mind if I link your post Marci ?

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

My mother didn't really like "other people" - not family - coming over because she was a perfectionist and felt judged by them. I am not sure why. But this seemed an unhappy way to live. When I married a Hungarian I learned their greeting "Isten Hozott!" which means, "God brought you!" and their sense of hospitality toward the "szent vendeg", the holy guest. I think we are meant to welcome people as if God had indeed sent them to us. I think welcoming them means making them feel comfortable and accepted and relaxed with us, and giving them our best. It means focusing on them and not on ourselves and our feelings. And this is something to work on for the rest of our lives! But if we think that God sent them to us as blessings, it will certainly help us to do well.

Peggy said...

What a great post! I use to try to have a home like Jen's but friends didn't visit often. I try to keep my house clean but livable now and friends stop by often. I am comfortable and welcome their visits. If someone visits just to see my home then I am uncomfortable and they will probably be disappointed.

Lib said...

Enjoyed your post!
To me hospitality is making others feel welcome and wanted in our home.
I try to always ask if they want something to drink or eat.I take them to the kitchen and say this is where such &such is kept ,have all you want. I think if we open up our kitchen to others they feel more welcomed.
My kitchen &D.R. is country ,I bought odd dishes,silverware, and glasses I find when I use those folks are more relaxed not worrying about breaking a fine set of china.
I don't have many things that match (on Purpose) I think it relaxes others more.
My sister and I are as different as day and night. Everything has to be in place and perfect at all times. We tell her she needs to relax we feel like she's saying "come in if you don't walk on the floors."
I like to keep our Home clean and in order but never spotless.
Keep up the good postings.:o)

Patty said...

After 10 days of rain, I had to do laundry, decided to hang lines across the living room, figuring the wood heat would dry them fast. Sure enough I had just hung up "underthings" over the sofa when the door bell rang. There was my neighbor with her minister son that was wanting to meet me. First impressions...I parted the clothes for him to make his way to the sofa, where he sat under the underware and ejoyed a cup of tea with some freshly baked pumpkin bread. We laughed about the circumstances of my house and I always will remember how he said, how welcomed he felt and that he had a great visit. Hospitality can take place under the most unusual circumstances

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

To me, hospitality is having an open door and inviting people in at any time...if we are eating a meal,they are asked to join us, if we are busy working, we usually stop and visit with them.

I don't feel real comfortable in a spotless house, especially when my kids were younger...I was afraid they would mess it up. My MIL has a spotless house and was always running behind the kids picking up after them and wiping their hands off etc. and I never felt at ease there when my kids were younger.

Great post....lots to think about.

Marci said...

We used to work with a college and career group. That is how the little group started coming to our house. We would have a Bible study and they would really pack into our houses. Several times there were more than 80 there. Jen and her husband started helping with the group as well. They had the most room. However, in a conversation one day, it some how came up about a house being warm and inviting. Jen thought hers was. They told her it wasn't. That they were afraid they would mess something up or stain something. They told her that they could not imagine her husband coming home and putting his feet up on the table, etc.

Juliann in WA said...

I lost out on too many opportunities to make friends when our kids were little because I didn't want anyone to see my messy house. What I didn't know then is that most of those people also had messy home and little kids and we could have been a great support and encouragement to one another.