Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Hospitality: Being a Wholly Happy Hostess

God's Words: 

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
~1 Peter 4:9

I love to host people in my home.  I find much enjoyment in planning for a party, play date ("hang out" as my teens prefer to call it), or meal with guests.  Deciding on favorite recipes to make.  Shopping for and making the food to serve.  Using my "fancy" dishes.  Organizing what activities and other forms of entertainment we'll offer our visitors.  Cherishing quality time with friends and family in the comfort of our home.

And call me crazy, but I really, really enjoy hosting out-of-town guests overnight.  Serving them refreshments once they arrive from their long trip.  Making up their beds with fresh linens and warm, cozy blankets.  Setting out my best wash clothes and towels (you know, the ones that aren't full of holes and fraying edges).  Letting them use the expensive soap and shampoo (no generic brand products for my guests!).  Making a huge breakfast of homemade pancakes with all the fixings in the morning. 

But I have to say that one thing I do not really enjoy about hosting is the before and after cleaning that often needs to be done, which typically includes having to enlist the help of my children and poor husband.  We all get a little grumpy about this part of being hosts.  But I am, by far, the worst.  I sometimes find myself grumbling about having to clean the guest bathroom toilet.  I complain about how long it will take for the kids to pick up all their stuff (aka: "junk") before I can even begin to vacuum the floors.  And it's not like I can get away with not vacuuming.  My two dogs shed enough fur in one week to make a coat big enough for a petite-sized woman.  Well that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but still - all that soft, pretty, black and white fur can fill up my vacuum's dirt cup twice each time I sweep!  So needless to say, I gotta do it! 

Then all too often, once our guests leave, I gripe to myself about how many crumbs and spills there are on my just-cleaned floors.  How it seems like every single toy my children own has been taken out and not put away before their friends leave.  Let me just make a note at this point:  My children know full well that I expect them to either ask their friends to help them pick up the toys they all got out, or else they will have to pick up by themselves once their friends go home.  So it's just very frustrating to me when we have a mess to clean up once everyone is gone. 

My son somewhat lovingly refers to me as the "Drill Sergeant" when it's time to clean the house.  I would say probably more like another name and all I need is a broom.  Oh, wait.  I do sometimes use a broom when I clean.  Ugh.  But you get the point.  I am not the happiest of homemakers when it comes to cleaning time.  At all.  Regardless of whether we're having visitors over or not.  I just simply detest house cleaning at any time.

I'm not really sure anyone really enjoys cleaning.  If you do, I'm very sorry, I just don't see the appeal.  Bending over until my back aches to scrub soap scum, bath crayon marks and - what is that?! - from the bathtub is not my idea of a good time.  I don't savor dusting each and every picture frame, knickknack, and piece of furniture we own.  And I absolutely loathe cleaning toilets.  Don't even get me started on that repulsive task.

Now I have to say that those amazing Swiffer products and my ever tried and true Clorox Disinfecting Wipes have significantly helped diminish my cleaning mania.  They might be pricey, but they sure do make quick clean-ups a whole lot easier.  Plus, my dear children are at that absolutely splendid age when they are finally able to significantly help out around the house.  My daughters actually argue over who gets to mop first.  And my son tackles the chore of vacuuming in much same way as he plays cornerback on the defensive line of his football team.  Look out dirt, you're a goner! 

I'm not telling you all this to terrify you of ever coming over to my house for fear of causing my family to go into a cleaning frenzy!  I just want to share with you what God has been working on in me concerning my bad habit of allowing myself to have a grumpy attitude about cleaning the house period, but especially when we are expecting company. 

I am sharing this about myself because maybe there are other women out there like me who are often tempted to grumble about hosting guests.  It must be a problem for plenty of people throughout the ages, otherwise I don't see why God would have addressed it in the Bible.  Our key verse for today couldn't be any clearer on the matter!  We all should be willing to offer hospitality to each other without grumbling.  I guess there must have been some grumbling going on in the early church!  Well guess what?  There's some grumbling going on at my house (mostly by me, which definitely doesn't help my family's attitude about it) and I know it displeases God, so that means it's got to stop. 

Maybe you don't really mind the cleaning up part like I do, but instead you don't like the cooking and food service aspect of hospitality.  Or perhaps you'd rather not have over certain people whose company you don't really enjoy all that much (FYI:  I will be dealing with this whole issue in another post soon).  Or maybe you worry that your house is too small, or you think your furniture is too shabby, or you don't have it in your grocery budget to afford extra food for guests, or any other number of reasons that make you grumble about having guests in your home.  For me it's the whole cleaning thing.  But for you, it might be a totally different complaint. 

So how can we overcome our reasons to complain in order that we can look at hosting in a completely new and positive way?  How can each one of us become a wholly happy hostess instead of a grouchy grumbling one? 

Well, whenever God commands something of us, He is always faithful to provide us with the strength and help through His Word and Holy Spirit to be able to obey Him.  And when it comes to being a happy hostess, I need a total change in my attitude about the aspects of hosting that make me grumble.  Everyone gets to choose their attitude.  You may not be able to choose your circumstances, but you are 100% in control of your choice of attitude.  You may not like your shabby furniture, or cooking skills, or small house, or having to have your husband's annoying cousin visit (I'm just totally making that up as an example!  All of my husband's cousins are very lovable!!).  But you can still choose to make the best of the situation you find yourself in and choose a happy attitude. 

For me, it helps to look to God's Word for advice on having the right attitude, as well as pray for His Spirit to work in my heart to enable me to obey what I read.  Here are a couple of my "attitude change go-to verses": 

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be make new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  ~Ephesians 4:22-24

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being make in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross.  ~ Philippians 2:3-8 

So even though my selfish human nature hates cleaning, I can choose to have a happy attitude about it (with God's help of course!) because I know I am putting my guests' best interests before my own.  And yes, I may sometimes feel like a servant in my own home, making tons of food and cleaning toilets and picking up the "party aftermath", but I can do all this having a joyful mood because I am showing love and concern for my visitors by taking care of their needs and making sure they have a pleasant, comfortable time.

And don't forget that showing hospitality to others, including strangers and people that get on your nerves, is just one more way to demonstrate Christ's love.  Christ Himself washed all 12 of His disciples' feet to show how we are to serve others (John 13:1-17).  I think the least I can do when people come over is make sure my toilets are clean! 

Now it's your turn to "come clean"!  What part of offering hospitality do you dread?  What advice can you share with my readers about how you overcome grumbling about it and instead choose to be a wholly happy hostess?

In Christ,


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