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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lawson

Hospitality or House-pitality?

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

I’m continuing to work on a “List of Things I No Longer Want to Do”. I messaged my kindred spirit a few days ago and told her I was going to start this list. The only thing I added to it at the time was the seats in the van - I never want to have to remove or replace the seats again in order to haul cargo. They’re heavy and I think whoever needs to haul the stuff can do it, or one of the young guys or even John if it is not having the same affect on him. I worry that I’m going to mess my back up one day doing it. So that’s what started the list.

Some additional things on that list? Moving people. I don’t want to do that again either. One of many reasons we decided to stay in this house is because neither of us can bear the thought of moving ourselves. So kids - if and when you choose to move again, plan to have other people help you or hire 3 Men and a Truck. :-)

Cleaning other people’s houses. I don’t want to do that anymore either. I want to be helpful and support my people in ways that I can, but cleaning their houses is not one of those ways. When Sarah moved to Florida and Mandie moved in we scoured that house from top to bottom and painted every surface possible. Christina and Josh moving back into their house is wonderful but the cleaning that needed/needs to be done is no small task. I can’t get to some of the cleaning that needs to be done in my own house and am considering hiring it out, so I ask you, why would I clean someone else’s house? Perhaps as a gift I could pay a cleaning team to do it… I would be okay with that. I hope to be checking on some cleaning services very soon. I am approaching it with extra hope since hearing Brian Dixon’s Live and his comments about having a team to enable me to move forward on the work I want to do. The writing and Voice Over is what I want to be doing now, and I am so okay with hiring a team to help me accomplish that.

So, we have the vans seats, cleaning other people’s houses - next on the list, and this comes as no surprise, I don’t want to plan, prepare or execute big parties anymore. I have done all that and I loved it with everything in my being, but the time for it is gone. I wouldn’t mind doing the planning part, but the labor? Nah, not interested in doing it again at all. But that is an issue when at the same time I want very much to open our hearts and our home to others, hospitality. Here’s what I am realizing - the part that I don’t want to do is hauling stuff up and back from the basement, buying excessive amounts of things to create a theme or to decorate, the physical labor of all the preparation and, these days, sometimes transporting all of it to another location when we rent a venue (other than the meal preparation - I still have some energy for this) and not having room in the refrigerator for dishes prepared ahead of time.

There are a couple of solutions to all of this. First, keep it simple, and I do mean simple. Themes are wonderful and I love coming up with ideas of my own or hearing inspiration from someone we plan to honor at a celebration and creating a space based on their desires. I love this, in fact, and it makes me a little sad that I no longer have the energy to do it all. I take comfort in the fact that there was a day that I rocked this whole business pretty well. Well enough, in fact, that people frequently suggested I should do it as a profession. 

So, back to that list:

Van seats

Cleaning other people’s houses

Moving people - anyone, myself included

Big parties, parties in general if they include any of the above listed things I no longer want to do…

In the midst of considering this conflict between no longer wanting to plan big events and parties but desiring to thrive in hospitality, an image of what I am willing to do came to mind. I am willing to welcome people into our home, our physical house. I am willing to keep plentiful food on hand for when there are extra seats at the table filled, and I am willing to prepare that food most of the time. I am willing to offer a seat at our table for a chat over coffee or drinks, a cozy spot in our living room to relax, or a bed, sofa (or air mattress when necessary) to rest. I want to become more willing to welcome people right in the midst of our ordinary, everyday setting. If the house isn’t as tidy and clean as I’d prefer, I want to throw open the doors and invite them in with a genuine smile anyway. I am going to claim this as my goal for the coming holiday season and years to come. This is the hospitality that I want to practice - house-pitality. I guess if you consider what the actual definition of hospitality is, I don’t need to use the spinoff. Hospitality has its roots in sharing a dwelling place (home)- permanent or campsite. There is etymology, of course, but I am not about all that right now. I am just declaring that from here on out, I hope to embrace the real meaning of hospitality and release the idea of entertainment and parties. Celebrations (parties) can be part of hospitality but they need not become the focus of the effort. We can (and should) host wonderful gatherings while maintaining boundaries of simplicity.

There will be times in our life still, God willing, that there will need to be extra effort to properly celebrate occasions. Those I am thinking of are weddings and, perhaps, big anniversaries. There are people you can hire to do the work, and I intend to do so, God willing. Yep, there’s a lot of God willing requests and remarks because I know in my bones that the only way we will have such celebrations is if God allows me to hire help to get it done. Because basically, I’m done. I’m done with that type of work, and ready to move forward with other types of work. So I’m not lazy, I’m just switching gears according to my desires and current abilities. LOL

Which brings me to one more stream of thought - all of this just confirms, once again,  that the work to transform our home into a space that welcomes others is worth the effort. What does that look like though? Finding the balance between wants and needs will be challenging. I pray that the wants don’t act as a hindrance to further cultivating such a welcoming spirit, and that we always recognize that the needs have already been abundantly provided for by our generous God. 

Toolbox: Know Thyself; Keep it Simple; Say what you mean, mean what you say; Easy does it, but do it; Get busy living, or get busy dying; Real Life, Human Contact; 3 As - Awareness, Acceptance, Action

PS My husband is now working on a list of his own :-)

What is it in this season of life that would be on your list of "Things I No Longer Want to Do"?

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