When you hear the word "hospitality", what comes to mind?
For me, it is images of carefully curated tablescapes, festive and perfect décor, and food that is not only delicious but also aesthetically pleasing.
In my mind, hospitality has always been an art. It has been about presentation. Maybe that's the result of flipping through my mom's Southern Living magazines as a child. Maybe that mindset has creeped in through Pinterest boards and filtered Instagram posts.
I've always declared that hospitality is not my gift. After all, deciding on centerpieces is my least favorite part of any event. Ask me to speak in front of 500 people? No problem. Ask me to design and execute a centerpiece? My heart begins to race and my palms get sweaty. No joke.
But maybe I've gotten the idea of hospitality all wrong. Maybe our culture has too.
Hospitality is defined as "the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."
Friendly and generous. Not picture perfect.
I remember the first time a friend invited me to her home for a lunch date rather than meeting at a restaurant. She made me a black bean quesadilla in her kitchen and we chatted as she prepared it. I felt so welcome, so comfortable. She had invited me into her space, into her world. She didn't have a perfectly decorated home. She didn't have a fancy recipe to present. But she welcomed me in. And that meant the world to me.
Maybe we need to stop overthinking this hospitality idea. Maybe we don't need to wait until our home is magazine-worthy, or our cooking skills are restaurant quality. Maybe we just need to open our homes with friendly and generous hearts.
Romans 12:13 invites us to "practice hospitality." I love that word, "practice". It doesn't say to perfect hospitality, just to practice it.
Let's be the kind of people who are willing to practice hospitality with the guests, visitors, and even strangers God puts in our paths. Let's embrace a broken and hurting world with friendly and generous hearts. And by practicing hospitality even with our imperfections on display, we will give others the grace to know they are loved and welcome just as they are.