A few strategies for letting go of what holds you back from the gift of hospitality.
Do you wish you could have new people over to your house, but never feel prepared for, or capable of, actually inviting them?
It’s possible, of course, that you can’t invite people over. Perhaps you’re living as a guest in someone else’s house, or you’re living with someone whose needs make it impossible to host company. It’s a different kind of cross to love having people over and not be able to because of other people you live with. If that’s the case, hang in there, as someday that will probably change.
But most of us are able to invite people to our home; it’s just that our insecurities hold us back. So here are a few ways to think differently about having guests over and a few strategies for letting go of the insecurities that hold us back.
“My house isn’t nice enough.”
Do you have a place to live? It doesn’t matter if it’s a studio apartment or a four-story mansion. If you’re able to live in it, it’s okay to invite people over. Well, unless it’s currently undergoing an abatement process to get rid of mold, or it’s overrun with rodents. Then maybe wait until those problems are solved. But other things you see as obstacles to hosting are probably bigger in your mind than they are in real life.
Most people are not concerned about, and don’t even notice, your lack of matching cutlery, your humble and slightly uncomfortable thrifted couch, or the dust in the bathroom that you didn’t sweep away.
Inviting someone into your space, especially someone you don’t know well, requires a lot of vulnerability on your part. Sharing your home with someone for an hour or three involves sharing more of yourself than you would in a public setting. And that vulnerability is a gift that stretches you and blesses the person receiving it.
“I’m not a good cook or entertainer.”
I’m not a particularly good cook or entertainer. I appreciate it so much when I meet someone who instantly makes everyone around him or her feel warm and welcome–especially because it’s a skill I know I lack. However, I know that I have other gifts that I can put to use while hosting. I enjoy getting to know people, and asking them questions about their lives. I enjoy cooking, even if my attempts don’t always turn out as beautifully as I imagined.
Focus on your strengths, and consider how you can serve those you invite over. Hospitality is a way to love and serve others. And the more you focus on helping them be comfortable, the less time you have to consider your own defects — whether they are real or imagined.
“Why would people choose to come over here out of all the ways they could spend their time?”
Your invitation could mean the world to someone. You never know who needs or wants that invitation. Human beings were made for communion, with God, and with each other. So, we all need to be with people to some extent.
Extending an invitation, especially to someone you don’t know well, does require vulnerability. It also requires you to be selfless and let go of the outcome. Offer your hospitality, but know it might be rejected. Your intended guests may say no, and you may not know why. They could be nervous about their health. They could be very busy at the moment, and overwhelmed by adding anything to their plate right now. And of course, it’s always a possibility that they just don’t want to spend time with you. But, as with all gifts and all acts of love, it’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all.
At the end of the day, hospitality is a way to be Christ to others. Sharing a meal and getting to know someone new is a way to love him or her. Have some courage and send that invitation!