I have friends who love to entertain, invite people over for meals, spruce up their homes, cook special treats, settle in and relax with guests around the table. They totally mystify me, although I am grateful to be the recipient of their hospitality. If I am ambivalent about cooking, I am not ambivalent about entertaining. I don’t like to do it!
I struggle, therefore, with the reciprocity factor of enjoying other peoples’ invitations. At the last wonderful meal we enjoyed as guests, I finally just stated that I wasn’t going to reciprocate. Amazingly enough, this host said he was fine with that. He loves cooking and sharing and actually prefers being at his own home rather than going out. I still have trouble believing that, but he seems completely sincere. In fact he has already invited us back twice.
Years ago I took what the church called a “spiritual gifts inventory.” I think this was a thinly veiled effort to get people to volunteer more. I scored very low on hospitality. But thinking back on that questionnaire, I realize that it defined hospitality in a very narrow way, somehow equating it with entertaining. But hospitality, more accurately defined, can mean an openness to others and a general welcoming attitude. There I am on firmer ground. In fact the host I mentioned earlier constantly tells me how welcoming I am at church.
So yes “come on in” to share with me your story, your struggles, and your victories. But don’t wait for an invitation to dinner!