I have pondered this word for the 5 years that we have owned this property. I have prayed about this word. I have prayed that He would teach me the meaning of this word. I have bought books on Amazon about hospitality. Can I grasp the meaning and become a “woman of hospitality“? Somehow, I believe there is a difference between the words “hospitality” and “entertaining”. Something tells me that it is something to be had. Something that would make me a better person. Something that I would like to provide to others.
I looked the two words up.
the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment : everyone just sits in front of the TV for entertainment.
• an event, performance, or activity designed to entertain others : a theatrical entertainment.
• the action of receiving a guest or guests and providing them with food and drink.
The words that I zeroed in on in these definitions are “friendly”, and “generous” in hospitality. And ” action” in entertainment. Could it be that one is simply executing an action when we entertain? and the other is a gesture of love? a “friendly and generous” gift?
Prior to reading these definitions I had a feeling. Have you ever stopped by a friend’s house, maybe even unannounced, and it was if they were there waiting for your arrival? When you stepped in you notice that the house could use a little attention, but they offer no excuses or apologies?? They offer you water and a kitchen chair and somehow at their house that sounds like the perfect invitation? That, to me, speaks hospitality.
I have been to people’s homes where I have gotten that gesture of love. I want to know how to do that. Some people are born with that gift. Some people (like me) have to pray that that gift can be taught to them.
When we bought this property, we bought it with the idea of opening it up to people who would like to come for retreats, solitude, and experience the awe of beautiful nature. I know that if this is what we have the privilege of doing, then this girl needs some work.
I have decided that entertainment is something that is controlled and manipulated by the host. The guest is told what time to arrive. Not early and preferably not late. They will be fed such and such with little or no flexibility. They are told when it is time to go home. Almost like a task that will be checked off when it is over. The host might even get a little irritated if the guest varies from the expectations of the host. I have been there for years and years. I have been there. I want to skip down the path to greener pastures.
So what does that look like? I think we have to be filled with a grace to be able to do it. Speaking for myself, I am not naturally that giving of myself and my time.
I want to open my door to my guests when THEY feel they need or want to be here. I want them to feel that they are that important in my life. I don’t want it to be about the image I am trying to convey through my china or drink or extravagant menu. I want my food to be their food even if it is just peanut butter and jelly or cultured veggies. I want to be humble enough to allow them to share their gifts with us while they are here. I want to be more interested in what they have to say and what their experiences are than what mine are. I want them to be able to sit in silence in my home if that is what they want. I want them to achieve their goal for being here, not mine. I want my home to be their home.
We just had a wonderful couple visit for 7 days. They came on their terms. They called and wanted to come and wanted to come for 7 days. I prayed about it for a long time before they came. Please help me to welcome them in my home this time and always and give to them freely as their needs/wants arise. How did I do, you ask? Well……. hmmmm… I was given sufficient grace to say I did … ok. It did not look like entertaining. The kind I used to know. I’m not sure it looked like hospitality completely. But it sure didn’t look like entertainment. Baby steps.
Tall order, eh? (“Eh” is for our Canadian guests. More fondly referred to as “fererners”)
Please share any tips you have to become a better hospitality woman or man. I welcome any thoughts!