I've got to get this one off my chest. But first a confession: fear has kept me from writing this post. Fear that I'll look prideful, fear that I'll sound arrogant, fear that I'll be misunderstood. But as I've thought and prayed about it, and as I've had conversations with my husband, I have realized that this issue is stealing joy from too many people. I would imagine it's stealing the joy of tens of thousands of people throughout our country.
Over the years, I've gotten several of these comments: "I could never cook like you!" "I know it's not up to your standards" "Nothing fancy but..."
Before I go an further, I want to be clear. If you've said these things I'm not aiming to attack you! I am genuinely hurt and saddened by these comments and ones like them because it devalues the person saying it AND dampers the joy that I get from blessing others with a skill I love: cooking.
The thing is, we all have gifts. One person is the artist, another the engineer, another the cook, another the scientist. There are PLENTY of gifts I have spent much of my life wishing I could have. I've wasted time trying to manufacture those gifts into my own, all the while ignoring the God-given talents I have been given to share with others. I spent needless time spinning my wheels trying to work with a tool that wasn't mine to begin with, rather than sharpening the tools I've had in my hands all along.
Hospitality isn't just something that we need to extend to others but it is something that we need to learn to accept as well. Accepting invitations to be served is just as important as extending the invitation to others. It can teach us how to be loved and in turn how to love others as we see it modeled. Accepting the hospitality of others also teaches us about the heart and values of the person extending hospitality. What better way to get to know someone than to learn how they use their particular gifts to love others well.
I just wonder: how many people haven't wanted to spend time with us and develop more of a relationship with us because of their preconceived notions and insecurities? We can't get lopsided in our view and we definitely shouldn't pick and choose who we serve based on how they make us feel about ourselves. Trust me, I need to learn this myself, in many areas. We need to start living in the gifts we've been given and getting over the fact that we don't own the gifts of others. I think a lot of freedom can be found when we rest in this.
Hospitality can be a cup of tea, or just your listening ear. Whatever form hospitality takes for you, let it be out of a heart that cares more for the other person than you care about yourself (ie: your cooking abilities, your home decor, the cleanliness of your carpets, etc). I listened to an incredibly eye-opening podcast recently on this very topic - it's with a panel of women who discuss barriers to hospitality, ideas on how to open our homes and cultural implications of hospitality. I highly encourage the listen!