One of the many topics that Bethany and I discussed at her house last month was the issue of hospitality. And when I went back to try to find a good picture for this post, I got to relive a ton of good memories–many of which involve visits with Anna’s or Bethany’s families! This picture dates back to when Anna’s family and another family of college friends came to visit us in Chicago. (We only had nine combined kids back then; next time we all see each other, it will be 15!) Our lunch assembly line cracked me up then and now!
I believe that having people into your own home for a meal and fellowship is the heart of Biblical hospitality. While this seems totally overwhelming to some, I’m inclined to say that if I can do it with four little people underfoot, anyone can. Here are some common excuses I’ve made myself or heard–and my answers to them…
- We’re too busy. Well, we’re all busy these days, so hospitality often just has to be planned. Meeting up at a restaurant can be spontaneous, but you can also ask people over for dinner at the last minute, as long as you’ve planned ahead and have groceries in your kitchen. A family I know invited people over after church almost every Sunday for years, and because it was a tradition, they planned for company every week (even if they didn’t know yet who that company would be).
- We live too far away. When we have company for an evening, we try to make sure it’s worth their time–a nice meal, homemade dessert, games, and fellowship. And when we’re across the country from each other, we plan our road trips around who we might be able to visit on the way (which is how I got to see Bethany last month!).
- Our house is too messy. One of the benefits of having people in your home every week, as we have the years we’ve hosted our church small group, is that you can’t let your house get too out of control–you’re going to have to clean the accessible bathroom and finally get to that jelly glob in the middle of the kitchen floor! On the other hand, I think it’s important not to think your home has to be perfect to have people over. I’ve found that the more I have a friend over, the more I’m okay with her seeing the kids’ toys strewn around the living room or the inevitable cheerios hiding in corners.
- It’s expensive to feed company. You can feed a whole family plus company for less than the price of an out-to-eat meal. And usually our company will bring a side or a dessert!
- It’s hard at this stage of life. Okay, that is always going to be an excuse at any stage of life! I said this when I was teaching and my husband was in school all day, and I sure was clueless about how much easier it was back then. I have been graciously hosted by pregnant friends, friends just moving in to a new home, and a friend who has chronic pain and insomnia. That makes hosting with a nursing infant seem doable, right? We’ve had company even when our kids were newborns, and everyone pitched in to help and understood that it wasn’t going to be perfect.
- I don’t have time to cook/I don’t know how to cook. When we were first married, I developed some basic company meals that I knew I could do, and I’ve expanded my repertory since then. It used to be spaghetti and salad (and you don’t have to make the sauce like we do–anyone can open a jar), and it’s expanded to pork roast with carrots and potatoes (a great crock pot meal), tacos (you just have to brown meat and chop things), chili (again, just have to brown meat and dump in cans of things–another good crockpot meal), and homemade pizza. On play dates with other moms and young kids, the menu is usually mac and cheese or PBJ and fruit. We don’t care, and the kids are just as happy with the $2 meal as if we all had McDonalds and spent $20.
- I have roommates/I don’t have a good place to cook or seat people in my tiny apartment/We just have a baby, and our house isn’t toddler-proofed. My single friends sometimes have to okay company with their roommates. We have had friends with one or no kids who will bring over pizza and brownies to our house so that we can put our kids to bed and then hang out more. For the first 16 months of marriage, we seated people around our folding card table. Some of my best memories of dinner with church friends growing up involved sitting with a plate on my lap on a couch. When we have a bunch of my husband’s students over at once, we’ll move our dining room table into the backyard and set up folding chairs. Basically, there are lots of solutions to this problem if you are willing to think outside the box.
What other excuses have you made or heard?