Love Your "Neighbors"
Updated: Apr 12, 2018
While I have been successful in practicing hospitality through our nonprofit hospitality houses, over the years, I have sometimes struggled in opening my personal home to people other than my family and closest friends. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in the struggle. There are lots of reasons and circumstances we can give for not opening our homes to new faces.
Strangers make me uncomfortable – I think most people would say that, except for my dad. I don’t think he ever met a stranger. Actually, he met strangers all the time, but he had such a way with people, after spending just a little time with them, you would think they were life-long friends. Some people are natural at it. Others, have to put more effort into it. It’s always been helpful to me to put strangers in perspective of who they once were in my life. At one time they were a classmate who’s name I just learned, a young lady I met at church, or someone I met at ballroom dance lessons. As I look at the friends and family in my life presently, I vividly remember the first time I met each of them, not knowing the encounter with that stranger would lead to friendships so dear to me. As we got to know each other, it didn’t matter what their political party, their religion, their age, or their skin color was. Who I saw was someone’s mother, sister, daughter, father or son.
Limited Time – Let’s be real. Our present culture keeps us busy with work, helping kids do homework into the late evening, second jobs for some, our kids’ sports and arts activities, and taking care of aging parents. It’s almost like we measure our success by how full our calendars are. With all this activity, it is unrealistic to invite people into your home every weekend, so don’t! Whew! However, what we can do is be deliberate and schedule times for hospitality on our calendars. Let me suggest starting simply and slowly. Circle a weekend on your calendar way ahead of time and mark it for intentional hospitality and protect that date. Try to set a goal of four weekends a year to open your home for this practice.
My house is not big enough or nice enough – Oh, this one is definitely a product of our American culture. As we watch home improvement and decorating shows on TV and we look at our limited bank account, we can easily come to the conclusion that our homes don’t measure up and are therefore not good enough to have people over. I have very fond memories of people in life who did not allow their limited space or limited bank balance to ever limit their hospitality.
When I try to use this excuse for myself, I’m often reminded of the beginning of one of my dearest friendships. My husband and I were newlyweds while still in college. At the church we attended a young couple with two toddler boys began inviting us over to their house after church on Sunday nights. Their home was a grand total of 900 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and full of love for these two toddler boys. How did she have the energy to invite people over? How could a young couple with little money afford to have guests over weekly? She kept it simple, and short. While seated at their small dining room table we got to know each other over nachos and iced tea. The friendship grew, and now after 31 years, and four hours apart, we are still the best of friends.
Hospitality In Action Tip #3:
Make time for hospitality. Invite a neighbor you barely know over for dessert.
Here are a couple of easy dessert recipes, just in case:
Chocolate Cobbler – Toni’s favorite!