I love the idea of hosting and I'm a huge advocate for gatherings of people, but something about actually inviting people into your home (where they could potentially see your dirty laundry and garbage piling up!) intimidates the crap out of me that I actually don't ever host.
If you find yourself hesitant to host as well, I think it's because there are misconceptions we believe! Like first, WHAT IS EVEN THE PURPOSE OF HOSTING. Because sometimes it seems like it's about creating a Pinterest spread and showing off your fancy furniture. If that's all hosting is, count me out. However, Shauna Niequist says it best:
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”
There is power in hosting and power in inviting people into your home, even when it's messy. Today I'm talking about 3 lies you probably believe about hosting; to *demystify and debunk* these lies and remind all of us that hosting is NOT about perfection, extravagance, or to be honest, us at all. I will be sprinkling in Shauna Niequist's words throughout because no one ever says it better than her. :)
LIE #1: YOUR HOME IS NOT BIG ENOUGH TO HAVE PEOPLE OVER.
Currently my husband and I live in a 1BR + den apartment. Before that, I lived in a studio where I could give guests an entire tour without ever taking more than two steps. That always made me feel like my home wasn't big enough to invite people over. I assumed that hosting should be saved for others with lots of seating room, or one day in the future when I bought a home.
The truth is... It's not about making the space in your home, but making the space in your heart, in your calendar, and in your desire for relationships around you. It's never the amount of space that makes people feel welcome, but the authenticity of the host. Owning a 4BR home or a dining table is not a prerequisite to be hospitable - there's a reason people want to meet in a home than in a coffee shop because there's an ambiance of intimacy and coziness that cannot be replicated. So take the leap and invite a couple of friends over. Sit on the floor, open a glass of wine and some crackers, and relax! They'll appreciate the heart more than the space.
LIE #2: YOUR HOME IS TOO MESSY AND TOTALLY NOT PINTERESTY ENOUGH.
When I invite friends over for the first time, I get filled with this pressure to make it super clean and super decorative. So I'll spray Febreeze everywhere until I get a migraine (that's when I know it's the right amount), clean the bathroom and kitchen counters, throw the dishes into the dishwasher, and bake cookies. Sometimes I even have pressure to go buy new serving ware to use or flowers to put on the coffee table because all decent women should keep fresh flowers on their coffee table according to Pinterest.
The truth is... Hosting and hospitality is about the People not about Performance, Perfection, or Pinterest. (Not going to lie, I'm SO proud of that alliteration I just made up and currently patting my back.) Anyway... Inviting someone into your home can be vulnerable, because you're allowing them to enter your sacred space, your comfort zone. However, remember that it's not necessary to sterilize your entire home or even decorate it. Just make sure there's room for guests to sit, light a couple of candles, and open a bag of chips or offer tea! That should do the trick. There's something so freeing about friends who have seen your home at its worst but don't look at you differently - when they've seen your dirty laundry, unmade bed, piles of dishes... When you don't have to apologize that it's not clean or secretly shame yourself for not cleaning it sooner. It's cultivating authentic fellowship.
“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”
LIE #3: IT COST A LOT OF MONEY AND PREPARATION (AND COOKING SKILLS)
My husband ALWAYS overestimates how much food we'll need whenever we host or are responsible for bringing food to a party. Sometimes we add the unnecessary pressure of trying to think of a brand new recipe or make sure there's enough for seconds.
The truth is... You don't need to be extravagant with the food, and no one expects you to feed them a whole meal. You can always stage it as a potluck so everyone contributes to the meal, order in something simple as pizza, or just lay out some cheese and meats - that always fills me up. There are other ways to avoid spending a ton of money or preparation to invite people over.
SO WHY SHOULD WE HOST ANYWAY?
Some of my favorite and most intimate memories with friends aren't in public spaces, but on someone's old couch, a dirty dinner table, in a living room. It's when you can you relax, laugh, and linger. To the point when you're so comfortable in their home, you can walk around without asking for permission to go to the bathroom or open the fridge. Hosting allows relationships to go deeper and cultivates authentic fellowship.
Also, God calls us as Christians to be hospitable to be one another; to live in community, to share, to open up your home, to feed and to give to others generously.
“We don't learn to love each other well in the easy moments. Anyone is good company at a cocktail party. But love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right, when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up uninvited with magazines and granola bars, in an effort to say, I love you.”
CAN YOU RELATE? DO YOU EVER FEEL PRESSURE ABOUT HOSTING? DO YOU FEEL MORE INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED TO HOST SOMEONE INTO YOUR MESSY HOME?
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