This is part one in a mini-series by Esther on how practice hospitality without stressing over your home. Look for part two, next week, called, “Are You Home Insecure: Three Questions to Ask Yourself!”
Do you let the state of your home dictate whether or not you are going to be hospitable?
Does your level of anxiety over the cleanliness or decor prevent you from welcoming guests, like it does for me?
The Bible has a lot to say about the act of hospitality. We are to do it without grumbling (1 Peter 4: 9), we are to desire to show hospitality (Romans 12:13), hospitality is one of the criteria for a widow to receive help from the church body in 1 Timothy 5, also a criteria for an elder up for recommendation earlier in 1 Timothy. It shocked me to find out that it really is a command God has given us Christians. To be hospitable. And when I think that God wants me to show friends and strangers grace, love, and a hearty welcome into my house. . .
I get the heebeejeebees.
In this two part series, I want to unpack our fears and feelings around the vulnerable art of Hospitality.
It seems like everybody around me lives in a yuuuuge mansion (read that in Donald Trump’s voice.) That has made hospitality difficult for me because I do not live in a yuuuuge mansion. I am insecure about our little rental house and make excuses not to host anyone. I am slow to offer to host Mom’s Night Out or movie night with the girls. I never host parties like Pampered Chef, Beauty Counter, or LuLaRoe, making excuses like, “Oh, my house is too small.” I’m scared to make a practice of hospitality.
I can find so many reasons not to. My home is not beautiful. Our landlords have not made many upgrades to our house. Our fifteen-year-old dishwasher and stove make me want to crawl into a corner. My lack of a decor budget for the home also makes me want to hide. All these things make me less willing to practice hospitality. It’s scary to invite people in when you fear what they’ll think of you.
Heather writes a fantastic breakdowns of this fear here. Turns out, I want others to see a spotless house in order to make them assume I am winning at this whole Homemaker thing. But I feel that our house is woefully inadequate. So I hide. I compare my house to my neighbors, in a way that’s not God-honoring. I’ve written about these insecurities before. Not only do the pervasive fingers of Inferiority and Inadequacy plunge themselves into my heart when it comes to image management and materialism, but now I see it’s also hindered my desire to practice hospitality.
God has certainly been working on me in the Image Management Department, I came up with this great way to handle my Hospitality Inferiority Complex.
Ready? Here it is: Be the first to invite someone over!
There I said it. My logic looks like this-when it’s up to me to make the first move, I have nothing to compare to. Always take every opportunity to have nothing to compare to!
When I haven’t first driven up their perfectly paved driveway, tripped the night fantastic down their hallway, seen how all matchy-matchy their flatware is, then I have nothing to compare it to! I realize this isn’t a total fix, you may hope with me that one day we won’t be comparing our homes to anyone else’s. But in the meantime, it totally helps me cope.
Here’s how it went down in real life: I made a new friend a while back. We had set up a few playdates, they went great! It seemed we were both circling around the idea of that next, oh so vulnerable step: asking if they wanted to come to MY house to play. Was I ready for her to see our humble house bedazzled by my feeble attempt at shabby-chic decor, on a shoestring budget? Was I ready for her to walk past my desk piled high with papers I can’t seem to file into the proper hanging folders?
(Look at that thing? Does any writing get done on there? No, of course not! I write on my laptop on the coffee table in the living room! Then why even have a desk, you may ask? Please! I digress . . .)
Here’s the meat of it. Am I going to stash all those papers in the closet while my friend and her children visit? Hiding all evidence of real life, pretending to be Little Miss Organized who of course has a perfect place for each of those pieces of paper. Or, am I going to be honest about it. Leave it out screaming, “Esther’s Life Isn’t Organized! Will you be her friend anyway?”
Am I going to make an offer of grace in a way that is welcoming and God-honoring? This is what we need to hear.
There is a powerful gift being given when you open up your home to friends or strangers. You create a safe space for them, you give them a tangible gift of grace. When I consider how much grace Jesus gave me on the cross, it becomes easy to cast my fears aside and walk in His confidence. When the Lord reminds me of His redeeming work in my heart, the pettiness of house-insecurity dissolve into nothing. The gift of grace, however, cries out, longing to be paid forward.
Make a welcome today, greet the mail carrier with the kids and a smile when she comes to your mailbox today. Offer a meal to someone in your life, another tangible grace gift. Step out off of your porch and really chat with your neighbor. Maybe next time you can invite them in for a cookie. I’m going to start small this week. Let’s be givers of grace and openers of the door!
Look for my second part to this series: Are you House Insecure? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself!
Esther Villareal is a recovering perfectionist who lives in Dallas, TX with her husband of four years, Riqui, their two boys, preschooler Emory and baby Elio. She revels in God’s grace and attempts to dish it out to everyone in her life. And she loves to cook and grocery shop. Read Esther’s other posts here.