Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why invite guests into your home?

Does it really make a difference if you invite someone to meet you at a restaurant or invite them to your home?

Times have changed. I remember being a kid and going to the Evans' home for Sunday lunch; all the families brought food, and chattery moms crowded in kitchen with dripping spoons, casserole dishes, and kids of assorted ages to blend into a beautiful collage in my memory. Dads were drawn by sounds of Sunday football games to the living room, where ties came off and laughter was put on. We ate on paper plates and played until somebody's family got too tired and grouchy to stay any longer. Never would've worked in a restaurant!

Today in our culture and in many others, hospitality has moved to public places, mostly restaurants. When people come through town, they're less likely to stay overnight on a sofa bed or stop in for a pot roast. We're more likely to text when we get near the by-pass and meet at Starbucks, so our trip agenda isn't messed up too much.

But, yes, it really does make a difference when we invite guests into our homes. When someone comes into our home we pull aside a curtain (literally AND figuratively) so we see more of how we live and who we are. Our transparency makes it more likely that our relationship will go further. It's easier to get "real" with people when we sit on the floor or take our shoes off or spill on someone's carpet and get forgiven. Yes, spending time in each other's homes makes us more like family than a friend to cross paths with, and I've found it's true around the world.

When you go to someone's home you learn "their smell." Do you know what I mean? When I was a kid, I always wondered how our house smelled to other families. I knew their family smells, and they even brought a little of it to Sunday school with them or when they slept over. I still wonder "how we smell." ;) This sounds a little strange, even for a blog! I hope ours is like fresh bread mixed with cinnamon spice and clean towels and good coffee and open windows. When you meet "out," you can't learn what makes the fragrance of a family.

When our missionaries were in town last week, most of their meetings were held at the church or in public places, but we fit in a late night meal in our home with one couple, and I was so glad. They loved what I cooked and had seconds. They met our dog. I stuck my feet in the couch pillows while we talked ... like now. And they learned we love our porch and our small kitchen and warm things.

I first recognized the value of receiving people into homes when I was in South America and was invited into a home of a missionary family. I'll never forget the way it smelled and the warmth of the friendship and the bond we forged. When I found out that very house was damaged in the Chilean earthquake over a week ago, that home of hospitality rose quickly in my memory where it was etched deeply the night I had been there over 20 years ago.

We may be reluctant to open our homes because we're worried about what we don't have, ashamed of what we do have, aren't sure how to use what we have, aren't confident in our abilities, don't have a show on Food network, don't decorate like Pottery Barn, want to protect our privacy, or aren't sure what we'll do with people ... but it's so worth learning and trying and serving. 1 Peter 4:9, Romans 12:13, and Hebrews 13:2 all challenge us to practice hospitality.

1 Peter 4:9 ~ "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

I think that starts right where we live, right at home. Will you do it? Buy some paper plates. Run your vacuum cleaner. Light a candle. Make spaghetti. And if you're ever passing through my town, I'll put on a pot of coffee and stick my feet in the couch. :)

What keeps you from opening your home to others?

7 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

I completely agree. It is way more fun for the kids to have families into the home! At a restaurant they have to "behave" but at home they can run off upstairs and play games, do make believe and be creative! They make memories as we adults make memories!

Great post!

Faith Draper aka byfaithonly said...

Great post - our church is wonderful for encouraging 'home' meetings and visits. Most of our small groups (including one I'm part of) meet at the homes of the members - we take turns a different house each week. When missionaries come home the only time they go to a restaurant is if they request it for something different. Home always brings people closer together :)

Cindy said...

Wow, sounds great, what's for dinner! I love this post. How honest and reflective this is. I love to have people over - I just don't have them. I love to be around friends old and new - but I don't invite them over. I have realized that more and more and am actually having a new couple come to our home for dinner soon. This makes me want to invite more people over. Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

Cindy said...

Oh, I forgot to mention - I totally know what you mean about the smell of a home. I always wonder that too, what does my home smell like? Thanks again!

Teri Lynne Underwood said...

I love this. One of our priorities this year as a family is to have more guests. We have several LARGE (30+ people) gatherings every year ...but this year we have committed to have just one or two families over once a month - either in addition to or in place of the other celebrations. In a busy, chaotic, superficial world there is a desperate need for fellowship between couples around a table and for women in a kitchen ... for men who can laugh around a firepit and for children who can play.

Oh, and about the smells of people's houses, just a couple of weeks ago, one of C's friends said she loves walking into my house because it always smells like apple pie! I felt like someone had given me the best gift.

Kristi Stephens said...

Julie, I think I have said this before, but YOU taught me a lot about hospitality by example years back.

I am blessed to have a mother who modeled hospitality well, and I often also think of watching you welcome us well-intentioned but naive college students into your home. (and it always smelled GREAT!):)

I think a special part of welcoming people into our homes is that there is a real element of teaching and modeling that happens... even without realizing what others have picked up from us. ;)

Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

I totally agree with you. We open up our home to people constantly, and so I really value it when people invite us into their home!