Hospitality is part of my inheritance from my mom. She modeled for us the ability to welcome and attract people to an orderly (albeit lively) family home rather than to an immaculate professional house. It was so natural to me growing up that until I started my own hospitable endeavors did I realize how uncomfortable it can be to make people feel so at ease.
The first thing I had to learn was that hospitality starts with the people who are already here. The cleanliness of our house ebbs and flows. Usually, an orderly, clean house is to be fought for (and yes, I mean literally sweat rolling fought for). But there are days when the cleanliness standard takes a back seat to other priorities. With that in mind, I think a heart of hospitality looks like unashamedly welcoming people into our home wherever we are in that flow.
For example, if you were to show up unannounced to my house during the above picture, a hospitable heart would (let’s be honest, after a little gulp of pride), have said “Come on in! There’s a piece of pizza left. Oh, and best leave your shoes on- there is some pop-tart squished into the floor that I haven’t gotten to quite yet. What would you like to drink?” (I may also have handed you a broom). My conscience would have been clear knowing the flow of the day. An apology would have been for my benefit not yours. But a hearty, “Welcome to our life!” would hopefully have communicated, “I’m so happy to see you that I’m not even thinking about what you’re thinking about me.”
The second thing I had to learn was that the state of my house does not by itself communicate anything good or bad. My house could be messy because I don’t care what you think of me or what you think at all. Or, my house could be clean because my only aim is to field as much praise for myself as possible. I may want to burden everyone who walks through my door with refreshing me.
The state of my heart, however, communicates much. Humble hospitality thinks hard about other’s comfort, for both body and soul. Hospitality is offering, after all, a “hospital” to the weary. When my heart is fixed on refreshing weary pilgrims, my house and presence will reflect that in the atmosphere and in the conversation. I will work hard to offer a peaceful atmosphere and thoughtful questions. Hospitality need not be complicated or extravagant; but to be explicitly Christian it must spill over from a Gospel obeying heart that loves God and loves my neighbor.