Make Space for Hospitality

“If there is room in the heart, there is room in the house.” – Danish proverb

We’re all busy, right?… places to go…things to do!

When I was a kid I remember slower days: my parents on the front porch chatting freely with our neighbors while the kids played outside. We were barefoot, sun-kissed and played with a deep sense of freedom. There was connection in a way that we miss today if we’re not intentional.

My heart is drawn to hospitality lately. When we moved into our current house, my husband and I knew we wanted to open our home up to all kinds of people at all kinds of times. With 4 children, constant renovation and a lot of moving parts, we could have easily come up with all the excuses to hold off on this nudge of hospitality we were feeling.

But this attempt at having an “open home” has slowly chipped away at my perfectionistic tendency. And I’m now starting to happily jump into the deep end of hospitality.

Romans 12:13, says “…Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

Always be eager.

That doesn’t mean when the house is spotless and you’re caught up on your to-do list. It doesn’t mean when you have a big meal prepared. It doesn’t mean when your kids look and behave perfectly. Or when you look and behave perfectly! The word “always” really does mean ALWAYS.

We’re big college basketball fans. Because we’re big Kentucky fans. And March Madness is a big deal around here. So much so that a new tradition has developed in the Cornell household that includes a giant projector screen and a 4-day open door policy when it kicks off. Anyone is welcome and you don’t even have to knock. Just come on in; bring some food if you can and watch the games with us (even if you’re a Duke fan ;)). This new tradition is one of our highlights of the year. Over the course of this past March Madness, we probably had 50 different people through our doors. And that doesn’t include the kids! On Sunday evening there were 24 children running through our yard playing capture the flag and I can’t remember when my heart felt so full. It’s my favorite thing in the world.

There was clean-up, lack of sleep, a lack of getting things done, lots of noise and definite chaos. But it was so worth it. So many worlds collided and people connected and we connected and we all came away feeling more like family.

I told Andrew after that we need to have “open door policy” days throughout the entire year, regardless of it being centered around a sporting event. It’s worth it.

It got me thinking that there aren’t too many sweeter words for our souls to hear than, “me too.” And when we let people into our homes, they see the reflection of “me too” written in our lives. You are welcome here. Your marriage isn’t perfect? Me too. Your kids have tough days and are disrespectful? Me too. Laundry is piled up and you’re ordering take-out again? Me too. But they see the good stuff reflected back too: the beautiful laughter, the crazy noise, children playing outside together and they hear “me too” – that life is good and God is good and it’s a whole lot better when we’re in it together!

As we think about hospitality and how to “make space” for it, these are a couple of thoughts I wanted to share:

1. Welcome all. Jesus chose some VERY diverse men to be in His inner circle. Matthew, a sell-out tax collector to the Romans was put in a group with Simon the Zealot, who hated the Romans! These two would never associate. It definitely seemed like an odd choice! But Jesus knew what He was doing. When we truly do life with people who are different than us, we see the beauty in our differences and learn to love and appreciate them. “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” – Mother Theresa

2. Just open the door. I promise you that people aren’t looking for a perfect reception, a beautiful house and a home-cooked meal every time. It’s wonderful when we can offer that but people just want to feel like they belong.

3. When you open up your home and loosen the standards of perfection you put on yourself, you give others air to be themselves.

4. True hospitality allows love to grow in organic ways you probably never imagined before: new friendships, new levels of understanding and deeper levels of grace given and received.

5. Our kiddos are learning that “our” house and “our” things are not really ours. They are gifts to be shared. They are learning that people are important and we’re going to value them over our own time, space or things.

6. I think our society has taken the “me-time” and “self-care” buzzwords a little too far. Maybe we actually need less me-time and more time with others. Maybe our souls are really longing for more connection and deeper relationships.

So let’s open up our hearts and open up our homes and start to make some space for hospitality!

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