"We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house."
For years, I have longed to possess the gift of hospitality. In my mind, I pictured visitors pulling up to our home, greeted by an idyllic setting, and a cool and collected hostess who had created a beautiful meal. I could visualize the stunning curb appeal awaiting their arrival. Flowers blooming in the garden and our porch laden with plants and whimsical artifacts would scream a hearty welcome. Once inside, the aromas of a home cooked meal would waft throughout. Everything sparkling clean and in its place would help set the tone for a relaxing evening. Soft background music and moments of laughter between friends would fill our home. If the weather permitted, a fire would be crackling in the fireplace. If I was entertaining in summer, the windows would be open, welcoming in the evening breeze, the sweet scent of jasmine, and the last chirps of the birds before they settled in for the night. Our conversation would be sweet, edifying, and all would walk away from the night more content and at peace then when they'd arrived.
Is it any wonder I can get tied up in knots when company is coming? I have created a scenario in my mind that is simply unattainable ~ at least, for me. What's more, I realize my focus has been all wrong. If I am going to be real, I have to acknowledge the fact that I've been too self-absorbed in my attempts to be hospitable. So much of my time and energy goes into MY house, MY garden, MY meal. I lose sight of the most important aspect of hospitality ~ the guests! There have been days when I've run myself so ragged trying to live up to my image of a perfect evening, I have little to give of myself to the dear people who came for a visit.
I am not proud of this ~ in fact, I am embarrassed. But I want to change. And the first step is acknowleding what needs changing. I do this publicly in hopes that others will forgive my past blunders, and even coach me along as I learn what it means to live graciously in our home among friends and family.
I think it's okay...even good...to want my home to be clean and welcoming and to have a nice meal prepared. But it shouldn't be my primary focus. I want it to shift to the people who we are blessed to know and share our lives with. I think this is the heart of living graciously.
"The ornaments of your home will be the guests who frequent it."
"We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friends, so we buy ice cream."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson