Tonight John is having the guys over to eat chips and salsa, play cards, and laugh. We had his brother, newly in town for his last semester of college, over for dinner beforehand. I’ve been horizontal most of the day just generally not feeling well.
My first big effort of the day was grocery shopping (Walmart on Labor Day at noon = big effort). Then I took a nap and woke up late for cooking dinner. So quick shower and then flying around the kitchen. I realized I had read the new recipe I was going to try wrong and it wouldn’t be ready in time. So I started making another dish as well so we could all eat at a decent time.
A Small Step for Most, a Big Shift for Me
I wrote that last sentence all nonchalantly….but in the past, this would have been a big freak out moment. Not feeling well + cooking + I won’t make my deadline = every. thing. is. ruined. But guys, I just took a big breath and started on the second dish. I knew it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the boys had to talk while I cooked. If I was still in the kitchen when John’s friends arrived, no one would be upset. So I could either be upset and ruin it myself, or I could chill out and just be flexible.
This sounds all logical, but it’s a big step for me. I would not call myself someone who possesses the gift of hospitality. But I recently read a book that changed everything I thought about “hospitality.” To me, hospitality is a spotless house, dinner waiting on the table, 4 side dishes, and me not sweating from being in the hot kitchen. Basically, I like to aim for the picture of perfection. Anything less is just not good enough. But these are standards I chose for myself. No guest in our home has ever said anything to cause me to feel this way; it’s just my natural mode of being.
My New Favorite Book
On summer vacation this year, I read Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. I found myself weeping, laughing, and itching to get into the kitchen. I would highly recommend this book if (a) you’re searching for community, (b) you want to start cooking more, or (c) you want a new favorite author. She painted this incredible picture of REAL life – crumbs on the counter, napkins fluttering to the floor, but everything important taking precedence over the rest. Laughing around the table, resting on couches with dessert, and living life together. I found myself able to give myself permission to quit concerning myself with the stress of perfection.
I didn’t grow up in a house with big dinner parties and a big social life, so I have navigated the waters of hospitality alone as a young wife. I haven’t been instilled with the gift of hospitality, but I am seeking to unwrap it and learn what it’s really about. So far, I think hospitality is more about making people feel welcome, giving them something to eat and drink, and sitting with them to talk instead of staying busy in the kitchen.
Lessons from the Best Book
As I write, I am reminded of the two women in Luke 10. Martha welcomed Jesus into the house, but she stayed distracted with the serving. Everyone likes to hate on Martha because um HELLO Jesus is in the house — who cares about the napkins and the dirty dishes?! But Jesus reminds us that she is anxious and troubled about many things. I am so Martha. Yet Jesus says only one thing is necessary. The dishes, the crumbs, the scuffed floor can wait; the good portion chosen by Mary is what matters. You can always clean up later. Don’t miss out on this moment, the whole reason you welcomed people in in the first place.
So now the boys are downstairs laughing at how none of them are professional card players, and I’m happy. Building memories, one night at a time, is what leads to a life well lived.