Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

Real-Life Hospitality: “Come on into My Mess!”

21 Comments

come on in

Tray with a broken handle that I keep using.

I’ve decided it’s okay to invite people into my mess. Nothing builds community like opening our homes to friends and family, but the images of perfect homes and perfect food we see on Pinterest can intimidate us. Our living rooms definitely don’t look pin-worthy, and on top of that, we’re too busy to have company.

Living in Turkey, my family and I are surrounded by people who slow down enough to make time for community.  Turks ask you all the time just to drop by, and they are genuinely happy when you do. Their hospitality varies from elaborate, formal meals to quick cups of coffee in chaotic living rooms.

Don’t Wait for Perfect

If I have to wait for the perfect time and conditions, hospitality is never going to happen around here. Ideally, I’d like time to clean my house spic and span, get out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a scrumptious meal, and then actually cook, but those three conditions almost never happen at the same time, so I’ve given up on perfect.

That means my brand of hospitality is sometimes messy.  Over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to let go of perfection. Imagine the following scenarios:

  • You open the oven to take out the chicken you baked for your guests, but it’s stone-cold raw. (Surprise! You forgot to turn on the oven.)
  • You’re serving tea to neighbors you just met, and your slip slides out from under your skirt into a perfect ring around your feet. You wonder how on earth to make it disappear without anyone noticing. (This actually happened, for crying out loud. Can you believe it?)
  • You’re running late, but your breakfast guests arrive a bit early. You take a deep breath, invite them right on into the kitchen, and finish prepping your ingredients. When you’re finally ready to start cooking, you can’t because your gas tank is empty. (Surprise!) So you hope no one will keel over from starvation while you wait another 45 minutes.

From situations like these, I’ve learned to (at least try to) relax and enjoy my guests, whatever happens. Even if the food isn’t ready until one and a half hours after they’ve arrived, people can have fun.

Build Community

We live far away from family, but inviting friends over has enabled us to build a community network that has grown to be like a family over the years.  My kids love it. When they were little they would ask, “Is anyone coming over tonight?”

Show Love

Opening your home speaks louder than any words.  Just the other day I was shocked when a fairly young Christian told me one thing that encouraged his spiritual life was being invited to our home for holiday dinners for the past three years. Food and family rituals are powerful communicators of love.

What does hospitality look like in your home? Do you enjoy having guests, or is it intimidating for you? Don’t wait for perfect. Takeout pizza on paper plates and ice cream from the freezer can make for a lovely meal in the company of friends.

 

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Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

21 thoughts on “Real-Life Hospitality: “Come on into My Mess!”

  1. I love your honesty. A friend of mine has a saying that underscores your point. It goes something like this: “if you want to see me, come on over. If you want to see my house, wait a few weeks!” Ha!

  2. I needed to read that today! Thanks so much for that gentle encouragement to open my open…with all the mess. I know it’s true that people just want to experience you and your hospitality, but I do fall into the trap of thinking it all has to be perfect. I’m going to do something this week…spontaneously!

  3. We’re starting (again) a weekly teens game night. We did this for a few weeks in the fall, and the kids loved it. It’s true; the best way to develop friendships is in the home. We eat pizza and ice cream, and I decided to just not worry about the house. It’ll never be perfect, and we need the fellowship.

    • Good for you, Lisa! We sometimes hot my kids’ youth group, and I really enjoy it. Definitely teens don’t care about your house. A games night is such a good idea. Little planning involved and usually makes for a great time!

  4. I am lacking in the gift of hospitality department. I’ve had to learn from a lot of mistakes in the past and stressing out about having people over. We never had many people over for visits when I was growing up. And I must not have been taking notes when I visited in other people’s homes. In fact, it has only been in the past few years that I’ve become aware that having a warm and welcoming home doesn’t take beautifully decorated rooms, lots of space, and a perfectly prepared and presented meal. All it takes is a loving and gracious heart, sharing time and fellowship (and food never hurts). My pride gets in the way so often. But I have learned never to apologize for how my house looks…it only makes the guests uncomfortable. I want them to feel as if they are part of the family and can be themselves. Thanks for this post, Betsy. I have plenty of mess to share!

    • It’s interesting what you say about not really having much company when you were growing up. We did have guests when I was a kid, and I learned things from my mom (I’ll be writing a practical tips post in two weeks) things like, get the coffee maker ready so you can just switch it on after dinner. That said, I don’t always live up to my Mom’s perfection. But I still invite people over.

      When I go back to America, I notice people tend to meet for coffee or meet in restaurants to get together. That is kind of limiting financially, and also it can be hard if you have small children…. Blessings to you as you share your mess!!!

  5. We don’t necessarily have guests often, but if my house needed to be spotless (or even neat) we would NEVER have people over. Sometimes that is discouraging, but then I remember: “nine people live here (has been as many as 12) and 7 are being educated here. Welcome to my life! I am far from perfect, and my house is far from perfect, but The Lord loves me anyway!”

  6. I definitely do NOT have the gift of hospitality. Having people over is is awkward for me, and I always feel like I am fumbling around, tripping over myself trying to make it enjoyable. This is an area I have been working on lately. Trying to cook something easy, like a pot of soup, helps relieve some of the stress:) Thanks for the reminder- people don’t expect perfect! Blessings Betsy!

    • Yes, Kristine, cooking something easy helps. I try to do that too. Sometimes I feel uptight myself trying to make sure people have a good time. But I think the more I relax, the more everyone enjoys themselves.

  7. Betsy, I love your story about the slip! Your guests got dinner and a show, LOL!
    God bless your hospitable heart to keep so many guests in your home! I once read long ago that we should invite guests to dinner often and to think in reverse. Instead of waiting till your house is clean enough to invite them, knowing that you have already invited guests, you’ll have to clean your house! Then if it can’t be perfect, you’ll be forced to deal with it. I tried that plan, but it was so stressful to me! Thanks for writing this post to point out and remind us that a perfect house is really not even a requirement!

    • Do you know Deborah, sometimes I wait until AFTER guests leave to do cleaning. It will just get dirty anyway, especially if a group comes. As long as the bathroom is clean and the middle of the floor looks vacuumed, I feel fine!

  8. Betsy, I enjoyed your post. Practical with humor. My kind of message. Thank you for the reminder not to wait for everything to be perfect. It’s never perfect in my home. I’m learning to be okay with that. I love your transparency in your writing!

  9. Just so you know…my six year old boy looked at the picture on this post and immediately said, “That’s pretty!” 🙂

  10. This was a great post, Betsy, and I love all your “hospitality hacks,” too. Extending hospitality means so much more (and simultaneously, so much less) than entertaining guests. It calls for a Mary mentality rather than a Martha if we want to bless without the stress.

  11. The timing on this was perfect- I’ve been stressing about how to get together with some local women who have been to my house once and had me over once. Thank God they came here, first!! Now, even after they’ve texted to say, “We miss you!”, I am SO struggling with getting together again, because my “hospitality” can not compare to theirs… But this is yet another nudge from my gentle, patient Savior to make the connection, even if it is in humility and weakness. Thank you.

    • Believe me, Sarah, I can relate. There’s no way I can live up to Perfect Turkish Hostess standards living here in Turkey. So I try for totally IMPERFECT Turkish Hostess standards and locals are understanding and appreciative!

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