It’s 9:00 am. The toddlers are fed and playing quietly. The entire house is spotless. I look around and feel very accomplished. Time for a shower! Dinner guests are coming tonight. I want the evening to be extra special. My plan is perfect, and I’m on schedule.
I skoosh down to talk to my kids to let them know I’m going in the shower and I’ll be out in 5 mins. (moms and dads have this down to a science) I ask them to please play quietly, and we’ll have snack time when I get out.
I head into the shower feeling excited and confident that tonight will be epic! I get out of the shower. Dry off. Dress. And then the surprise hits.
I look into the dining room, and indeed all three wee ones are playing quietly and happily. My son had gotten out his matchbox cars, bull dozers, and backhoes, and all three (under the age of 5) were playing in the dirt from around my large elephant tree. They had spread the dirt from one side of the hardwood floored room to the other. Inside I was extremely upset. I quietly (this is how my kids always knew I was really mad) told the elder two to go to their rooms. I didn’t want to see them. We would talk “later.” The littlest one I picked up and put in her highchair. I told her I didn’t want to hear one word. Not one.
I wanted to cry. How in the world would I get this room clean again? I still had dinner to make. And how would I ever have time to get those kids cleaned up?
Most of us have been in a relatable situation. We extend aninvitation. It feels right. Then when the day gets closer, we wonder “what was I thinking?” My house is dirty! What will I make for dinner? We begin to feel unaccomplished and “not enough.” Where is the joy?
Isn’t there supposed to be joy in offering hospitality? Isn’t hospitality supposed to be about serving others? Sharing what we have that others may also feel joy?
In the moment of seeing dirt spread across the room, I was not feeling joyful. But wait.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)
I remembered the looks on my babies’ faces as they looked up at me gleefully and showed me what they had done. After all, I had asked them to play quietly. The road configuration they had created was a masterpiece!
My heart softened.
Hospitality is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. Every religion or spiritual guidance mentions hospitality and ways of ceremoniously expressing our joy by sharing with others. Why? What do we miss about being hospitable when we become obsessed with the “Pinterest” version of sharing what we have instead of the spirituality behind being hospitable?
The truth is we don’t have to be in a specific location or have specific food – although, both add to the moment and it’s a nice gesture. The menu does not have to be spectacular. Our homes do not have to be the “Better Homes and Gardens” version of shiny and spectacular.
The spirituality of hospitality – the true meaning of hospitality – is when we put our guest first and be present with them. We focus on them. We love on them. We cause them to feel joyful in knowing they are appreciated and are special. They relax. Their pressures melt away. Love in action.
Lillian is a Maine-based writer and compassion consultantwhose topics explore everything related to food, human trafficking, and caregiving. She is patiently honing three writing projects – a “love of home” cookbook, a collection of interviews with caregivers of all ages, and inspirational cards for children. In the summer of 2018, she swam a total of 2 miles to rescue a 70 yr old kayaker and push him and his kayak back to shore.
Editors Note: I am excited and honored to invite you to join Lillian Lake (@llake) as she hosts our weekly #SpiritChat on Twitter, Sunday March 3rd at 9amET / 730pm India. Please do join, and enjoy her wonderful heart-filled hospitality. Come. Sit. Stay. Namaste – Kumud