|Can you guess which side got used more?|
I would cringe every time we pulled out the second leaf of that table; the nicest dining table that we ever had. Normally there was room for 6, but that expanded to 9 whenever we had someone over for spaghetti or baked chicken or every-day rice. Each time we opened it up, I would marvel at the smoothness of the wood grain, the unscathed beauty, the glory of it. Any of you who have ever bought new furniture (even if it was just "new to you") have to know what I mean. And, if you have small children, you know what I mean multiplied by ten.
You want to keep it beautiful and untouched. You want to preserve and "steward" that table, that bed, that end table as well as you can. But then, people always come into play.
Of course, furniture stores are testimonies to this!: "No food or drinks inside the establishment, no jumping on the beds, and don't you dare slide a Hot Wheel over that coffee table!"
Every time I opened up that secret middle leaf of our table, those feelings crept up. There are no glass rings permanently imprinted there. No unsightly marks from a toddler dragging her fork across the table..little sign or wear and tear. The differences between the outside and the inside are very clear.
If I was going to get comfortable with hospitality, I was going to have to get comfortable with leaving marks. Even though my house wasn't always naturally tidy (anyone figure out how to do this well yet with little people?)...it was going to endure at least a few more scathes in the process of having people over for dinner, for play dates and for prayer.
Over the last few years, it has been a challenging process of laying down my own expectations for providing a *perfect* space for guests to enjoy and taking up the reality that "Hospitality is not about me...it is about them." I read this once, and then many times since, on a blog called Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin . It is her mantra and helped me tremendously in examining my own self-imposed ideas about hosting others.
It isn't about me. It is about them. It is about you. It is about them.
Sometimes I think about preparing too much and lose sight of the simplicity of just being with people, filling their bellies, and encouraging their hearts.
In this season of life here in Thailand, Treavor and I have been challenged by God to keep our house open to others. If we go through a week and realize we haven't opened it and our table to others, we open up the calendar and see where we can fill it with an invitation for others to share it. I have to contentiously set aside my hesitations that "the house isn't ready!" and call somebody up to feast on curry and conversation together.
Join me? Who can you open up your (imperfect) table to this week? How have you overcome the hurdles that get in the way of hospitality? Tell me about it in the comments.