Allowing Your Strengths to Shine in Hospitality

braces never stopped her from dancing

Life is full of imperfections.  I was looking at a picture of my smile today and I noticed how it's a bit crooked.  My bottom left hand side goes up a bit more than my right side.  However, I love my smile.  I love that my teeth show, my eyes squint/light up & my cheeks get plump...all from my smile. It should never stop me from smiling, just as braces on my daughter's feet (pic above) doesn't stop her from dancing.

This was translated on my wedding day.  The photographer told me to have less smile & more eyes, which made me second guess what I love about myself, as does Ben, (and it made me look like a zombie).  I find venturing into a holistic life of hospitality is like this.  We know what we're good at & see our unique design; yet, we begin to question our strengths & beauty within. We allow other people's perceptions/voices to shape the way we need to "love." 

As you may have noticed, I tend to shy away from telling you "how" you need to extend hospitality, because I truly believe each of our stories are different & deserve a special arena to unfold them.  And since there's this little thing called a screen between you & me, I want to ensure my words are never a mandate, but like an old friend sharing her heart (over coffee of course). So here are some tips on hospitality designed specifically for YOU!

1. Prayer

Sounds so trite doesn't it?  I know, I know, but it's completely essential.  One of my good friends has a hard time with large groups of people.  However, she's open to using her home to inviting people over, even if it's uncomfortable for her.  She confessed one day, "Kamille, I want to have people over & I really don't mind it.  It's just that it completely stresses me out."  I honestly don't know if it was me or if it was an "aha moment" for her through our conversation; but, what she realized she needed to do was to pray lots beforehand.  She needed to center herself on Jesus to get behind the vision of what she was doing...and it paid off.

2. Know Your Strengths

Just as my friend got stressed out by large groups, she is fantastic in smaller groups.  We can't always pick & choose where we get to extend hospitality.  However, if we find ourselves working towards our weaknesses instead of our strengths, we will become burnt out & resist this life-giving, Jesus style love.  Do you like having one to one interactions more, or smaller groups?  Are you inquisitive?  Are you a good listener?  Are you empathetic & understanding?  Are you easy-going & love to laugh?  Do you love having people into your home?  Do you love being with people outside instead?  Jot down what your strengths are & what you are good at & work with them. 

 

3. Partner Up

Whether you are married, in a relationship or single,community can be the best remedy for easing the stress of hospitality.  I'm reminded of animals that have healthy symbiotic relationships, depending upon one another, in order to survive or help the other out.  Isn't this so true in living in community & extending hospitality?  Ben is amazing at hospitality.  He makes people feel comfortable & at ease.  He's great at multi-tasking & let's things roll off his shoulder.  He continues to amaze & teach me that the relationship with people is the most important...food is second.  That said, he leans on me to prepare a good meal & to take inventory of the details of filling bellies.  As the years progress, I've learned to be mindful of my weaknesses & lean upon Jesus to love through me.

 

4. Being Mindful

Just as it's important to know your strengths, it's also completely vital to being mindful of your pitfalls.  One of mine is that I can become so engrossed in the details & tasks at hand.  This leads me to mull over the people coming into that space.  It's my ugly default.  When I'm mindful about this, I continue to pray & check myself.  I ask God to fill in the gaps & walk in grace knowing that I'm an imperfect host trying to mimic the Host of hosts.  How can you be mindful when entering into hospitable opportunities?  If it helps you to write them out, go ahead & do that.  Use this list whenever an opportunity of extending life-giving hospitality occurs.

 

This is a little bit of what I have found useful.  What resonates with you about these four areas?  Have you found any other principle when applying hospitality, which would be helpful for other readers?

 

A Year Ago: Energy Bars & Strawberry Margaritas