Monday, September 12, 2011

A Lesson in Hospitality

"When hospitality becomes an art it loses its very soul."
- Max Beerbom

"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."
-Romans 12:13

On Saturday, I put together this recipe for baked ziti. I still had some of those Morning Star meal starter crumbles that can be used in place of ground beef (I had bought these super cheap with coupons) so I made the ziti with those. It made a big ole casserole dish full and I figured we could bake it for Sunday lunch and then have leftovers for the week. At church, I started thinking about how big the casserole was and that we could easily feed several more people, but then I kept getting hung up on the fact that (A) our apartment wasn't especially clean (it wasn't nasty or anything, but I knew our bed was unmade, there was a pile of clothes on the bathroom floor, and a stack of dirty dishes by the sink), and (B) I was nervous about serving a casserole made with meat substitute crumbles. I mean, what if is was gross?!

The desire to spend time with friends won out though and we invited 2 couples over. They both graciously offered to pick up some bread and dessert at Publix on the way, so we raced home to tidy up and put the meal in the oven.

I am so glad that I didn't let my fear of imperfection cause us to miss out on a really fun time with friends. I tend to be a planner and want to have all my ducks in a row, but I am writing this post to remind myself that hospitality doesn't have to occur only when we have everything perfectly laid fact, if we strive for that we will probably never really be hospitable to others.

I remember when I was an intern with RUF, at training we had a seminar on hospitality. Our speaker shared a story about how once she was invited to dinner at a family's house following a church event and they served her oatmeal. At first she was a bit taken aback that they would simply serve oatmeal, but then she realized that she saw true hospitality in this offering. They had opened their home, were letting her share in their life, and were encouraging her. No it wasn't the finest meal that she had been served, in fact it was far from it, but she walked away knowing that they had truly wanted to spend time with her, even if it wasn't perfect.

The speaker emphasized the difference between entertaining and being hospitable. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a good entertainer, but we must not miss out on fellowship with others because we can't always perfectly entertain.

So how did the veggie crumble ziti turn out? It was a success, or at least my gracious guests proclaimed it to be. But it really doesn't matter if the food was amazing or not, or if our house was spotless, we had such a great time together! So the next time I find myself hesitating because all my ducks aren't in a row, then hopefully I will remember this lesson that true hospitality is about people, not perfect entertaining.


Anna Beall said...

I'm proud of you. I have to remind myself of this too.

Jo-Jo said...

You are so speaking my language here! So many ducks to get in a row - but mostly, though, is worry that they won't have who cares? I usually know that the food will be good - or we can laugh about the dry meat later! Way to go Susie!

Paula said...

A friend once told me that: 'there's a difference between hospitality and entertaining. I've never really thought of that before but it's so true. Entertaining is what my grandmother did, making sure you could see your face in the silverware, all the closets tidy, floors immaculate, etc. Hospitality is what's commanded in the Bible. It's opening your doors to those who need to see you loving your husband, disciplining your children in love, struggling with your sin and sharing yourself, your food, your imperfect routines because you're being flexible enough to have them over. The two are very different."

alsal said...

I love it Susie! So well said! Most women (and some men) struggle with this, and I really think it is worse here in the South. I have gradually made progress in this area over the years, but I must admit that I still have to fight the tendency to revert back to my old ways.