God has given each of us individual gifts that are a part of who we are. These gifts come naturally to us. One of mine is hospitality, and 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” Now, as a young Christian, I thought that meant always having people over for dinner, tea, BBQs, and hosting Bible studies, and I put a lot of pressure on myself.
The first women’s Bible study I hosted turned into a circus. I thought I had it all figured out, by the way, that’s how you make God laugh. My house was spotless, and I had a variety of cookies and flavored creamers to accompany our coffee. I had a chat with my boys (who were about eight and four at the time) about my expectations of them while my guests were present. I definitely have a Martha personality.
Ladies were scheduled to arrive at 10 am. At 9:30, when I was getting ready to start brewing the coffee (you know I cannot serve stale coffee), I received a phone call from my neighbor saying my cows were in their field. First of all, my husband assured me that our new cows would not get through the fence. Second, did Miss Strawberry and Miss Whip Cream not know that I had ladies coming over and I did not have time for their shenanigans? Also, I have no experience with cows, but how hard can it be to wrangle them back into their yard?
The first women’s Bible study I hosted turned into a circus. I thought I had it all figured out, by the way, that’s how you make God laugh.
I threw on my garden shoes and went out the door. I learned quickly that it wasn’t very easy at all, especially when Miss Strawberry is old and a bit stubborn, and Miss Whip Cream is young, stubborn, and has horns. Yep, cows can have horns too. When I realized it was going to be an adventure, I yelled to my 8-year-old that he needed to start the coffee. He was standing on our deck yelling out at me to give him step by step instructions.
Just then, I notice the first of our guests pulling into the driveway, and somewhere in the process of cow wrangling I lost one of my garden shoes; I wanted to cry. I took a deep breath, tapped into my grit, and continued the task at hand—all while my guests arrived one by one.
It took about an hour to convince the cows that the grass in our field was just as tasty as the neighbor’s and their horses were not interested in sharing their space. With the help of my neighbor and her dad, we got the cows contained and the fence fixed. I was covered in the substances one would expect to find in currently occupied fields as I went back into the house to greet my guests. Another deep breath and a little more grit were needed.
I walked in to find that the ladies had come in and taken charge of making coffee and getting out the treats. They even waited to discuss our study topic so that I could take a shower (not sure if this was about me or their noses). These dear women showed me grace in taking up the tasks that I was not able to do and allowing me time to take care of the things that I needed to do. We live in a farming community, so these blessed souls also shared stories with me of them chasing farm animals and other various adventures; more grace.
As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve also grown in my gift of hospitality. A few lessons I have learned over these years are that most people are not coming into your home to look around and judge you by your dust bunnies, fancy soap dispenser in the bathroom, or the fact that you forgot to put away one of your decorations from the last holiday season. They are coming into your home to spend time with you. The refreshments you serve (or don’t serve) won’t be what they take away from your time together. What your guest will leave with, is the ambiance of your space and how you made them feel while they were with you. We are reminded in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.”
When I went back to work full time, I thought that I was giving up part of myself by not being able to host gatherings as often. Something I realized is that my gift of hospitality is not reserved for my home solely; it applies to how I welcome and interact with people in the office where I work and how I greet people when I see them at the grocery store, coffee shop, or anywhere else. What they take away from any encounter is how I made them feel while they were with me, and that is something that will stay with them, a treasured gift tucked in their heart. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
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The refreshments you serve (or don’t serve) won’t be what they take away from your time together, but how you made them feel while they were with you.