I love the idea of Biblical hospitality, but usually, when I say I would love to have people over more often, I follow it with a but . . . or a when . . .
But . . . my kitchen table is too small, my toddler is too wild, my house is too messy, and my time is already too stretched.
When . . . we have a bigger house with more space, when my son is easier to manage, or even when my culinary skills improve (which if I’m really honest, basically means never!).
Yet one of the things I’ve discovered over time is that people will almost always say yes when I extend an invitation to them and invite them into my home. And they don’t really pay attention to any of the things I’m obsessing over either.
The truth is that no one else is judging the laundry hanging over the chairs, the toys strewn across the floor, or yesterday’s dishes left in the sink. Those things are all just accepted as signs of a full family life and a well-loved home.
Another thing I’ve slowly learned is this: Most people really don’t care whether I cook a homemade meal from scratch or order pizza, or whether they sit at a perfectly set table or on the living room carpet either. They don’t come for gourmet food or the ambience of the surroundings.
They come to my home for connection—for friendship, laughter, and fun.
Still, at times I’ve told myself I’m too busy to prioritize connection with others, and I’m too overloaded in my here and now to practice hospitality. I’ve not always been good at regularly keeping in touch with friends or planning ahead to schedule catch-ups either. Often, I find I’m too overloaded in my here and now to even think about these things.
But then suddenly I realize that weeks or even months have passed, and I haven’t called, met up, had people over, or been in touch at all.
It’s so easy to let our everyday routines swallow us up whole, isn’t it? But even though extending friendship and hospitality to others might sometimes feel like one more chore or thing to remember to do, whenever I choose to prioritize connection with others, I am reminded that it’s almost always worth it.
Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Over the years, I’ve found this to be so true.
Hospitality is a total win-win. Not only does it bless those who receive it, but invariably, it also proves to be good for my soul, too.
And I know things are especially tricky right now because we are in the midst of a global pandemic. For me, it can often be tempting to just use this as one more excuse, but some relationships are just too important to postpone until next month or even next year.
Besides, whenever I open my Bible up, I am reminded that fostering connection and building community with others is just not an optional extra or add-on to a busy life—it’s the very core of life. We were designed to thrive in relationships by a God who is relational and who also longs for close connection with us too.
So can I offer some friendly advice, hard-learned from my own life? Don’t fall into the trap of defaulting to buts and whens like I so often do. And don’t let the fear of things not being perfect prevent you from opening up your life and your home to others right now because there’s probably never been a time in history when connection with others has mattered more.
Of course, in this present season, we might need to be extra creative and extra careful in how we do this. It’s really important to socialize safely and to be respectful of others by following all of the latest local guidance and rules. But the fact is that this doesn’t need to stop us from extending any form of hospitality or friendship to others.
God can use whatever we have to offer to bless someone else’s life, and all it requires is that we simply make ourselves available.
So why not decide to start right where you are? Start small, start simple, but start today. Try asking yourself: What can I do to connect with others and practice some simple hospitality this week? How can I reach out to someone who is lonely or needs a friend?
That could be something as simple as scheduling a phone call or Zoom chat with a far-off friend or having a mom friend over for a playdate with her kids. Or perhaps it might look like inviting someone who’s lonely in this season over for dinner with your family, or going for a socially distanced coffee and chat. It could even be blessing your neighbors with some baking or hosting a BBQ or street party for families in your street.
In my experience, it doesn’t really matter what you do, it only matters that you do it. So choose connection with others as an everyday lifestyle right now, and not just one day when . . .