Recently, I read an article revealing the top three things visitors notice about your home. It supposedly served as a warning against less than spotless bathrooms and the lingering odors of last night’s breaded chicken dinner. Another title, which popped up on a suggested post on Facebook promised to help me give a wide berth to last year’s outdated home trends and decor. If we are not careful, we may actually start to believe some of this stuff.
I am grateful for my home. We live in a pleasant area and our house is roomy enough that we can invite friends over. But my bathroom is not spotless; I have piles of unopened mail, and books and the children’s things stuck in corners. My closets are disorganized. Oh, please don’t look in the garage. It’s kind of gross. I suspect my decor is not on trend, but then again, I am blissfully ignorant of what is popular at any given moment.
I’m not sure I am there yet, but I would love to be the person who is not so concerned about what people think when they enter my home, but how they feel. When I think back to friends whose homes I loved visiting, they were not always the ones with the matching furniture. Not always. Sometimes hospitality and ambience go hand in hand, but not always. My goal is for my guests to feel safe, comfortable, valued and honored. When I can achieve that I will have fulfilled Romans 12:12-13.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
I John 3:18
Now I only embrace this theoretically, but I hope to one day have a home where it doesn’t matter if my floor is clean, because you are welcomed regardless with open arms. Here is a home creed in which to aspire:
Let’s make our homes safe. It’s ok to talk about difficult topics, to voice opinions of dissonance. It is ok to admit failure, hardship and trouble. You will not be undermined. You will be loved and are secure.
Let’s make our homes comfortable. The furniture here is secondary. There may be a lump in the couch, but the blankets are handy and you know where the silverware is. Let’s make our homes a retreat for our family from the outside world, but also welcome the world to come in from time to time and put their feet up on the ottoman. God holds me accountable for I have often been sheltered by some of the most hospitable of people.
Let’s make our homes the venues in which we can value and honor others. It is an honor to have you enter our doors. You have blessed us with your presence, and now we want to show how greatly you are valued. We listen, we reserve judgement, we cater to your specific needs. We speak words of honesty, love and gentleness.
As I reflect again on the pointless articles mentioned above, they have not emphasized what we truly care about. Being in someone’s home is about being, and feeling, included; it’s about a sense of belonging.
You may only get water to drink at our house, but, here, you can chop this onion.
If the Golden Rule is treating others as we would want to be treated, then the Golden Rule of hospitality has nothing to do with the scent of hand soap in the guest bathroom. It is how do I feel when I am included in the host’s inner circle. Am I safe, welcome, comfortable, valued? I am far from living this creed out well, but it is a goal to strive toward. You are worth it.