I have always thought of myself as a good hostess. I’ve adored it since I was young, likely because hospitality is my mom’s great love, as well. It was around me often and I like a little sponge, I began learning without realizing I was.
The cooking, the decorating, the little details. I love it. In fact, one of my most favorite things in the entire world is to have people over and entertain.
Sometimes though, I need to remember how to be the right kind of hostess.
Do you know this story?
Jesus was visiting Martha's home in Bethany (with as many as 70 people joining him, yikes!). Martha therefore, was running around like a chicken with her head cut off as she prepared meals and made sure everyone was comfortable and taken care of.
Her sister Mary however, sat at the feet of Jesus...just soaking Him in.
I don't need to close my eyes to visualize Martha sweating and being completely overwhelmed. If she's anything like me, she became increasingly aggravated as she looked over her shoulder into the other room where Mary sat serenely gazing up at Christ.
A few years back, Ben gave me an honest little chat about my heart. We don't have family in town so we had friends over for Thanksgiving brunch and more friends over for dinner. It was a busy and full holiday...I ended up being in the kitchen all day, spending fewer time with our guests than I should have. It was very fun but a far cry from the relaxing Thanksgiving I desired.
My sweet husband kindly took me aside at one point and told me I was being like Martha. He told me to forget about all the details that most people wouldn't notice anyway and stop stressing myself (and my family) out. To just enjoy the day. How humbling to have the person who knows me the best and loves me so much, take my hand and tell me that I'm taking some of the fun out of the day because the family is walking on pins and needles because I've turned into a drill sergeant.
That's not what I want! That's not what it means to be a good hostess!
In the years since that conversation with Ben, I’m more intentional on my attitude and level of perfection (aka it’s never going to be perfect and that’s ok). I work incredibly hard now making sure I don’t turn into that drill sergeant and therefore making my family dread having people over.
Mary had it right and I’m trying to become more like her.
Just like Jesus' response to Martha, Ben had graciously put me in my place and given me a great reminder of what's important.
It's not that Martha was wrong in her serving and hosting. It's that she forgot the REASON she was doing it and concentrated too fully on the tasks.
I heard recently about a woman who was so very loved by all she had in her home. Her house was small and worn and yet no one noticed because the way she loved them as she hosted.
When guests came, she would remove her apron and come to the door to greet them. After taking coats and getting them something to drink, she'd invite them to the kitchen as she continued to prepare the meal. She scurried around as she engaged in conversation and once the meal was over, she'd relax with them and chat. Never did she begin to clean the kitchen or put things away until her beloved guests had left.
She made THEM feel like the most important things of the evening, not having a clean dining room or kitchen.
It was the HEART of hosting that pleased, not the ACT of it.
Hearing this story was so convicting, because often one of our kids open the door while I yell a “Hi! Come on in!” from the kitchen.
Practice and failing, asking forgiveness...and trying again. Let us continue on with a HEART for hospitality, so Christ may use us in a way that loves others well.