When my husband and I first bought our house, we sat down and we talked about what we wanted our home to be like. Since we grew up in two totally different homes with different ideologies and lifestyles, it was important for us to talk about the tone we wanted to set for our own space. This was a big and important discussion because we were going to be starting a habit that would not only effect us, but our kids, our kids friends, our family, neighbors, and strangers that we would encounter.
We decided that we wanted to have a “hospitality policy”. Our desire was that people always felt like they had a place in our home, and when I say place I mean the “grab food from the cupboards, put your shoes on the coffee table” kind of place. We envisioned a space where people came when they were broken, when they needed encouragement, when they had exciting news, even when they needed a place to stay. We wanted our home to be a place of safety, rest, and rejuvenation. We developed an open door policy. Alex and I have both walked through times in our lives that have led us to desperately seek places of safety. We wanted our home to be the place where people didn’t need to call to come over, they could just show up and know that they would be welcomed in with all the love we had to offer.
I will be 100% honest and say that sometimes this is much easier said than done. There are many times when I can feel selfishness start to creep in and tell me that I need my sleep or that I need to have a quiet night to myself. In those moments I need to quietly take a step back and remind myself that God has called me to have a character of hospitality. Hospitality is about checking yourself at the door, putting selfishness aside, and giving everything you have to those around you. It’s about making sure that you are openly and freely accepting and welcoming people into your life exactly where they are.
I feel like what we think of most when we hear the word “hospitality” is cleaning up the house so everything is in just the right place, putting on a great meal, serving others, and letting everyone go home with full bellies. Sometimes, hospitality becomes more about ourselves as we pray everyone likes the meal, get nervous or insecure that we haven’t decorated as well as we should have, immediately getting to the dishes after the meal, and always being in the kitchen getting things “just so.” I am so guilty of this! I have to consciously think about leaving the dishes in the sink and the kitchen a mess so that I can engage with the people I have invited into my home. I would much rather people leave our home with full hearts than full bellies. I mean, full bellies would be a plus but if all I have to offer is physical sustenance and not emotional, mental, and spiritual sustenance then I am doing the people who walk into my home a great disservice. And this goes so much further than just the home. Often we are so busy or insecure with what we have going on in our daily lives that we forget to smile at the banker, ask the cashier how her day is going, or share a kind word with a perfect stranger.
My prayer each and every day for Alex and myself is that we are available. Having a hospitable character is about leaving space for others, constantly being on the lookout for opportunities to reach out and love, bless, and serve others. I would encourage you to live a life of hospitality, and not just in your home, but also in your heart.