Monday, July 19, 2010

Hesistant Hostess

Before I got married one could generally find anywhere from one to thirty college students in my apartment on most nights of the week.  Even on and off during the day a few would stop by if I was home to kill time before or between classes. 

I like having people in my home.

That hasn't really changed much but the dynamic of life has changed a bit.

When I got married we were part of a church that showed hospitality in a way that I had never seen before.  It was beautiful, generous, lovely... and, well... sometimes a bit intimidating.  Not that any one of these families imposed certain expectations on my but they were my own self-imposed expectations and thinking that I needed some serious observation lessons before attempting any of these shin-digs.  I would see women under such grace feed 15 people for a sit-down lunch/dinner and it seemed like it never phased them.  Scary!  At the time we also lived pretty far away from most people in our church family and in my mind I thought that it would be a great imposition for them to come all the way down to our home.  Sigh.  I think we had three households from church in our home.  The rest were a fun family that lived relatively close, family, and a neighbor.

Now we live pretty close to just about everyone in our church, family, and other friends.  In my expectations I didn't want people to see all of our moving boxes, then there was the "legitimate" excuse of morning sickness, or I want to get this or that project done.  Well, boxes are removed, morning sickness gone, and projects completed.  No more excuses.  You can insert my anxiety sky-rocketing here as Husband talks about having this or that family over. 

Again, it's not that I don't want to spend time with these people it's my own self-imposed, unrealistic expectations of what needs to be presented and done for these people.  Yeah, no aroma of grace there!

This last Friday we had a lovely family over in a very impromptu manner for dinner.  In the midst of my third trimester I am moving slow and trying to keep things simple and the oven off as much as possible.  Let me note that this family is quite hospitable and the wife is a whiz in the kitchen.  I told her basically that we were having pasta salad and I whipped up another cool salad type thing to eat with chips.  The pasta salad was even from a box but we love it and I added a few extra things to make it a bit more "hardy."  They brought a couple of things to share as well which was great.  Husband bought a bottle of wine home which I think can make any meal better.  ha!

We had a grand time in fellowship which is really what the evening was all about.  The kiddos had fun playing and we let them all stay up after their bedtimes.  While talking with the wife she appreciated the fact that I didn't put on any "airs" in creating my pasta salad.  She got a good laugh when she inquired about the recipe and I told her, "It's my Aunt Betty Crocker's recipe." All with a smile.

We talked about hospitality and what it means to have people in our homes ever so briefly.  I realized in our conversation hurt that had been extended to her because those who have been in her home and experienced her gourmet side think they have to return the same when they come over.  NOT SO!  Yes, she has special gifts in different areas as I have gifts in other areas.  We learn and grow from each other.  It's not about the food but what happens around the food.

It was a good learning experience for me on a variety of levels.  Even in letting her help me in the kitchen while being 7 months pregnant I learned it really is okay to let your guests help.  It was the least stressed I have been in a "hosting" situation in a long time.

So, with that we have another household coming next weekend for lunch... in the midst of a crazy, filling-up-fast, getting-ready-for-baby kind of schedule.  Family and other friends, too.

Even while having an extra tabel in the front room while we are trying to sell it.  Yes, the house was clean but there is grace even in that.  Not everything was totally in it's place.  A toddler lives here and it was obvious.  But that's okay... we live here, it's not a showroom.  More on these other aspects later.  But I am not quite so hesitant a hostess anymore.


  1. Wow Jess. totally convicting (thanks a LOT ;-)). Other than our annual Christmas fest and close friends for rare occasions, we have not had people over for anything. First it was the very real excuse of me being far too ill to deal with any of that. That lasted 3 years. Now that I'm better for the most part...
    My problem has been I feel people have an expectation of me. People joke "oh we're going to Heather's it's gonna be awesome." And that put this pressure on me not only to perform but that the meal couldn't be simple and inexpensive (which, let's face it, is important when entertaining on a budget). I know they were only being complimentary but all of a sudden I would have this anxiety that I didn't have before. I've also had people express that they are "sorry" that they have "only brought brownies from a box." It makes me feel horrible like maybe I have said something that makes them think I'm a complete snob who wouldn't appreciate their yummy contribution to the meal! Just as your friend said, I've experienced people telling me they are nervous to have me over for dinner (and thus sometimes don't extend the invite). That makes me sad. To your point it's so not about the food, the table or the degree of cleanliness & organization of the house. It's about the people and the fellowship. So I just need to do it!

  2. I know what you mean. I get really nervous to host get togethers at my house too. My husband pointed out that he thinks I am a good cook (bless his heart), and how is anyone ever going to know, if I never want to have people over for dinner. It is not that I don't want to have guests, I just worry about the house being clean enough, and the food being good enough.. but then people just really love to visit, and they aren't thinking about all the little things that really don't matter ;)

  3. I could just hug you!

    Remember that the requirement to BE hospitable is not just for elders and their wives. It is a being not a doing. Pastor Wilson always says that "doing flows out of being." I don't know how many times I've thought about that statement in the last 6-7 months.