Some people have a knack for entertaining. You walk into their home and they make you feel like you belong there. When you leave, you are nourished, refreshed, encouraged, and grateful.
I’ll be honest – entertaining doesn’t come naturally to me. At least it didn’t used to. I always had reasons why I shouldn’t have people over (the house was too small/dirty/cluttered/whatever) and the rare instances when we did have friends over, I was an anxious grump anticipating their arrival, trying to accomplish a month’s worth of housework in a day. For a season we were teaching weekly swing dance lessons in our small condo, and we would spend the hours beforehand hiding all the clutter from the living room in our bedroom and the guest room. Then we’d pray that no one would accidentally open one of those doors!
Physical environment aside, I just never really felt like I knew how to make others feel welcome in our home. The stress and worry of what they would think kept me from truly enjoying our friends.
Now, I know that when I go to someone else’s house, I don’t judge the experience in the harsh, critical manner in which I would judge my own hospitality. I am not worried about the piles of clutter on their dining table when I drop in on short notice. I am not expecting to have homemade goodies fresh out of the oven. What I remember most is the experience. When I step into someone’s home, I feel welcomed, loved, and cared for.
So why the double standard? I’d say it’s probably because I’m a Martha at heart. No, I didn’t mean Martha Stewart (although I wouldn’t mind that!). I am talking Martha from the bible. See Luke 10:38-42.
There are a few things characteristic of the “Martha type”.
Martha struggled to balance the people side of hospitality with the practical side, and as a result, she missed out on precious time with those she loved. I can’t help but wonder if that feeling of being overwhelmed kept her from even inviting people in sometimes. I have succumbed to that feeling many times and not opened up my home when the opportunity came up.
We are in the midst of a move to a new city, and am choosing to take advantage of the fresh start. With God’s help, I hope to have company over regularly. I would like to maintain a pleasant environment in my home so that it doesn’t have to be such a big stress when someone drops by. Then my heart will be ready to serve their needs without being overly concerned about the tasks and preparations.
I am telling the Martha in me to slow down, invite people in, and love on them like Mary loved on Jesus. They may not remember what kind of coffee and snacks I served, but I they will remember how loved and appreciated they felt in my home.