“This was a bad idea. We should not have done this. Why do you let me do this? Next time I say I want to do this, you should definitely not let me.”
For several years in a row, that panicked string of “this was an awful mistake” phrases came tumbling out in a rush, usually at about 5:40 p.m. when company was due to arrive at 6:00 p.m., and in an increasingly clipped voice mostly aimed at my husband who was just walking in the door.
At that time, we had three children ages 3 and under, and all of them usually needed something from me right around 5:45 p.m., which would result in one of them spilling something, one switching the forks with the knives, and the littlest one blowing out his diaper at about 5:50 p.m., which was right around the time when someone would cry, “There’s a car in the driveway!”
It made showing Christian concern and care to others seem like a really bad idea, like it simply wasn’t worth it.
Then, as it does, God’s Word laid my sin bare. “Show hospitality to one another,” 1 Peter 4:9 says, “WITHOUT GRUMBLING.”
And as it turns out, every one of those nights, as I’d pick up the kitchen and my husband would lock the doors, I’d say, “That went really well. I think So-and-So seemed to really enjoy it. Did you?” And we’d both agree what a lovely evening it was and how we needed to get another one on the calendar, which was all just proof that I’m clearly untrustworthy an hour before people show up but definitely trustworthy in the hour that they leave.
Well then, now you know the truth: Even people who love to love on people sometimes don’t love people. Now when someone dumps out a puzzle in front of the door as I’m taking the fajitas out of the oven, or toothpaste somehow ends up in the guest bathroom sink even though it’s suppertime and I cleaned that bathroom hours ago, I say to my husband, “This is where I’d say, ‘This is a bad idea. We should not have done this,'” followed by, “But here we are. And we’re doing it. We’re doing it! THIS IS SO FUN. AREN’T WE HAVING FUN?” at which point we usually start laughing, even if my laugh is a little on the clenched teeth side of things.
Hey, I’m a work in progress.
So there’s a puzzle in front of the door. So there’s a silverware shortage. So what? “Serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). No grumbling. Because as it turns out, I’ve yet to have a person comment on a single one of the things that caused me angst prior to their arrival, which means my grumbling served no good purpose.
Show hospitality. Switch the forks back. Change the diaper. Smile big. Give a warm hug. Offer a drink. Give directions to the bathroom. Pull out a chair. Pass the taco shells. The Lord has you where He wants you–in service to Him and the ones closest to you. And that’s never a bad idea.
2 thoughts on “Reluctant Hospitality”
Eeee! Stet is back! And what a topic. We’re all glad it’s not just us. Having people over is one of my favorite things, and yet it seems like no matter how much prep you do ahead of time, the last half an hour before everyone arrives is just… Intense.
I was that too, reluctantly hospitable. My husband was the pastor, so it was kind of obligatory. We were having the president of the congregation and his wife. The table set in our wedding china, probably the only time we had used it. Even the matching sugar bowl and the s & p shakers filled. I stepped away to take care of our 2 year old … for just a minute. Our 4 year old was only trying to help (putting the best construction on it) by pouring sugar in everyone’s plate. Then the doorbell rang. I met my new best friend, the president’s wife. She started the laughter and we all joined in while dumping sugar and rewashing the fine china. Loved your article!