Last week, I attended a special luncheon for a women’s Bible study group I’m involved in. The speaker focused on Hospitality, and I gleaned so many thoughts and ideas from what she said.
However, one thing she mentioned right near the end has really stuck with me.
She shared her thoughts about hospitality towards OUR OWN IMMEDIATE FAMILY — which is not something we often include in the concept of hospitality.
Normally (at least in my mind) we envision hospitality to be outward acts of kindness to others — inviting friends over for a meal, bringing cookies to new neighbors, asking a coworker to join the gym with you, seeking out strangers to invite to a church function, hosting the holiday festivities at your house, etc. etc.
Even the dictionary defines Hospitality in that way.
I know I rarely consider the concept of “hospitality” when it comes to Dave or our children… after all, I do the things I do to care for them simply because I’m their mom/wife and that’s what moms and wives do.
I prepare and serve their food.
I wash all their clothing and linens.
I keep their spaces clean and orderly.
I entertain them with games, books, and fun activities.
I try to assure they are happy, comfortable, and content.
But isn’t THAT exactly what hospitality is too!?!
I think the main difference in our hospitality towards “outsiders” and our hospitality towards our own immediate family members is simply OUR attitudes!
When we serve others, we are usually much more conscious about anything and everything we can do to make their time with us more enjoyable, more relaxing, more comfortable, more satisfying, etc.
We go out of our way to help them.
We bend over backwards to find them the things they need.
We give them our full attention when they are in our home.
We take an interest in their interests.
But what about with our own families?
What if we didn’t grumble about the balled up socks in the laundry basket and the rocks in every single pair of pants pockets, but instead shrugged it off and appreciated the fact that the kids actually put their clothes in the hamper to begin with?
What if we didn’t lament the fact that we had to make dinner, yet again, for little people (or big people) who don’t appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing the meal, but instead joyfully prepared food to feed the people we love?
What if we didn’t groan and complain about the fingerprints ALL over the windows, the pee splatters ALL over the toilet, and the toys strewn ALL over the floor, but instead willingly cleaned up the messes with a thankful heart for all the messy people in our lives?
What if we didn’t sigh when our family members asked us for a favor, but instead happily granted their requests without a second thought?
What if we didn’t scroll through our text messages or emails while our children or spouse tell us a story about something that happened during the day, but instead gave them our FULL attention and even ask probing questions to learn more?
What if we didn’t argue and fight with a stubborn child, but instead said “yes” to their request for one more drink of water, one more book, one more song, and one more kiss before bed?
What if we didn’t criticize or make snide remarks when a family member “pushes our buttons”, but instead resisted the temptation to lash out and calmly changed the subject or walked away?
What if we didn’t roll our eyes when asked to do something for the millionth time, but instead went out of our way to fulfill (and even anticipate) needs before we were asked?
What if we didn’t give into the sarcasm that so easily rolls off our tongues, but instead spoke kind and encouraging words?
What if we didn’t ignore those living within the same 4 walls as us, but instead acknowledged their presence and actually looked for ways to initiate interaction?
Yes I know – this is a bit (or maybe a lot) idealistic!
You are probably rolling your eyes — I get it, and I understand!
I certainly do NOT expect us to treat our immediate family members as esteemed guests every moment of every day. That’s too much pressure and work for us, and it’s doing our children a disservice by waiting on them day and night.
However, what if we simply had a better ATTITUDE about the various ways we already serve our family each day?
Can you even comprehend how many divorces would be avoided, how many cases of depression and anxiety would be reversed, how many children would be happy and thriving, and how many family counselors would be out of business if we simply treated our immediate family members like we treated the guests we bring into our homes?
It’s such a simple concept, but definitely not easy to do!
This paradigm shift will not happen over night — but I for one have made it my goal to consider this concept every single day.
My goal is not to wait on my family members every hour of the day, but simply to change my attitude toward the work I do in and around my home and how “hospitable” I am to the people I love most.
An attitude of hospitality towards immediate family members is not always realistic or doable – but it’s certainly worth a try!
After all, what’s the worst that can happen?!