Have you ever found joy and contentment in serving someone else? Isn’t it amazing how doing something for someone takes a magnificent focus off of ourselves and puts a shining light on the value of someone else? The time for acts of service and hospitality are upon us. ‘Tis the season.
Hospitality, like many other practices that enhance joie de vivre, takes intention.
Romans 12:13 tell us to “Share with the saints in their need; pursue hospitality.” Wow. Even the Bible tells us hospitality must be pursued and done with intention as if to indicate that for most of us, we think of ourselves first and others second. But the entire idea can be overwhelming.
While Martha Stewart taught us an incredible amount of things over the years as she revolutionized the art of homemaking and hospitality, I think the exposure to so many great ideas has perhaps done us some harm. Like a supermodel strutting her fabulous stuff down the runway, we are presented with yet another image that for the most part is unattainable and so, we give up before we even begin.
Stylists spend two days prepping for a photo shoot to post to Pinterest or Instagram. I don’t know about you, but when I see those highly stylized spreads I find myself inspired for a moment, to be sure, but then I start feeling defeated. Is that what hospitality is? Perfectly staged harvest tables decked out to the nines? With six children and real life, I could never own that many matching dishes let alone stage something so elaborate without burning candles getting knocked all over the place!
I think in some ways we’ve gotten confused on what hospitality really is.
For us creative types, pulling out all the stops is so enjoyable and fun but sometimes that expression of creativity becomes more about us and less about the person we are trying to love on. It is OK to go all out and put on a gorgeous spread? Of course, it is. But that’s not the definition of hospitality and if staging the ultimate table is not in your skill set you shouldn’t feel that you can not exercise this fantastic gift.
Hospitality is about creating comfort for our guests and loved ones and enveloping them in the cosy we focused on in October. It’s giving them a space to feel cared for, fed, loved and nurtured. It’s considering and accommodating their comfort over and above our own, and it’s often self-sacrificial. It’s usually much more straightforward than we believe it can be. I have one friend who offers me sparkling water every time I walk in her house and another who puts chocolate on your pillow when you spend the night.
My mom always has a little food made in advance for the kids to eat right when we walk in the door as if to acknowledge the effort it takes for me to find matching shoes for so many people in order to leave my house, and I try to keep frozen baked goods handy to thaw out for last minute guests.
My point is this – As you are opening your home this season, enjoy yourself by loving others. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time. And it doesn’t need to be worthy of a social media photograph. There is joie de vivre in serving others, especially when we realize it can be a simple as a thawed out frozen muffin over a hot cup of coffee.
From “2019, A Year of Joie de Vivre”