Be hospitable to one another without grumbling- 1 Peter 4:9
We are officially in the high holiday season, the hustle and bustle of Christmas Time is upon us, along with the weight of expectations. Expectations for ourselves, for others and for how things should play out in this busy season. There are expectations that children will behave and be grateful, that the food will be amazing, that family will get along, that we will get exactly what we have been hinting at all year long, and the list goes on. The problem is, expectations often kill, be it death to joy or to relationships, expectations kill, especially the ones we place on ourselves.
So, as we enter this time of opening our homes, our hearts and our lives to friends and family it is vital that we remember what the Lord’s expectation of us is- that we will “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” There are some people who are amazing at this, and then there are others of us that need a little work. Hospitality is a spiritual gift- and we don’t all have it-and that is okay, but there are moments in life when we will be called to it, even when we don’t want to be and in those moments, we must be willing to do so without complaint.
We have a muddied understanding of hospitality and made it to mean something entirely different- we have equated it to entertaining. Entertaining guests requires, time, money, and over exerted effort. It means Pinterest worthy decor and food, it means getting up early and staying up late, it means exhausting yourself so that everything is perfect, especially the 5-course meal. Entertaining seeks to impress others, it focuses attention on ourselves-and everything we accomplished for our “guest’s sake”. Entertaining seeks to meet the unattainable expectation of perfection.
Hospitality however, makes others feel welcome by tearing the veil of perfection. Hospitality seeks to bless others; it cares more about comfort than about caviar. Hospitality focuses on the guest by listening to stories so intently, that you forget the cookies in the oven, until you smell them burning, hospitality invites people to take their shoes off and relax. Hospitality allows people to spend time with you, hospitality keeps things simple so you can be present.
So, as you open your homes to others this season or as you enter a home yourself-challenge yourself to be hospitable by keeping things simple and being present. When we seek to meet expectations we often find ourselves sinking into conversations in our minds that cause us to grumble- let us enter this season with thanksgiving and praise. Let’s not get hung up on what doesn’t go our way, but instead savor each sweet moment spent with family and friends this season.