If you are like me one of the reasons I do not practice hospitality in my home is that the world has taken the gracious act of hospitality and turned it into a multi million dollar business and painted a picture of perfection that is unattainable for anyone except Martha Stewart. Even the word entertaining puts so much pressure on us as the hostess; we have to make sure that people in our home are entertained the whole time they are there. For well over ten years of married life I bought into this idea. When I would have people at my house it was an “event” and not necessarily a pleasant one. I would make everyone in my house including myself miserable trying to achieve perfection. When our guests arrived I was worn out and did not enjoy the guests or the evening.
Over time God placed some ladies in my life to show me what hospitality was about. One lady would invite my family over at the spur of the minute. The food was always good, but there were times she included leftovers to help with the last minute guests. Although her house was always tidy I remember once that I could have written my name in the dust on an end table. It didn’t seem to bother her a bit and I still had a good time. Another lady had a beautiful dining room, but we always ate in the kitchen. Her house was not always tidy; she would look around and say oh the cleaning lady hasn’t shown up yet. She would try new things that didn’t always turn out quite right and you know what, we had a great time.
Yet another lady would invite us over and it was always take out, most often pizza. She didn't let not cooking stop her from extending hospitality.
God gave me these ladies as friends and unlikely mentors of hospitality. They showed me that it is not about the event it is about the sweet fellowship of believers. The early guests in my home probably had no better time than I did, not because everything didn’t look nice but because I had made that time about “things” not about people or fellowship.
Today when I have someone in my house, I try to make sure it is tidy, but if something goes undone, I don’t stress. If the menu isn’t potluck, it is certainly simple. I still like a nice looking table, but it certainly isn’t my focus.