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Framed In Joy, Melissa N Smith

Not the Perfect Hostess: leaning in to love well

community everyday joy life in christ perspective

I say I am a terrible, awkward hostess. While not the full truth, I am not Martha Stewart. 

I love furniture stores and their perfectly designed vignettes of dining rooms and living areas - warm colors and no dog hair in sight. When I open a Real Simple magazine, my mouth waters over their savory recipes and coordinating photos. My attempts to copy their genius look more like the photos in a “don’t do this” article. 

There have been many days that my lack of skills and confidence kept me from inviting you over. I’m sorry. The dog hair has yet to organize itself into a welcome message on the floor. I rarely have a tasty treat on hand to serve guests. Unless you like gluten-free brownies? On my worst days, it’s really my insecurity that keeps me from inviting you in. I feel inadequate. 

I’m learning the truth about hospitality. More than a Pottery Barn catalog-worthy home, hospitality is being greeted by name when you walk into a room. It’s a thoughtful question that shows you listened the last time we talked. Hospitality is remembering I’m gluten-free and providing an alternative. You are welcome here. Come on in.

“Hospitality is holding space for another person to be seen and heard and loved.”       Shauna Neiquist

Not Perfect

Instead of focusing on what I am not, I am learning to lean into who I am so I can better serve and love you. Insecurity is really fear and too much focus on me. Hospitality opens its heart wide and says, “Welcome!” So, by God’s grace, I’m learning to flip the script. 

  • I won’t have a perfectly set table, but I will welcome you into my warm, bright kitchen with a smile.
  • I won’t be wearing shoes, but I will have prayed over my home and our visit before you arrive.
  • I’m not a great cook, but I will have commissioned my accomplished daughter to bake a treat or make a trip to the store to have a delicious snack on hand. If you show up unannounced, we may nibble on chips and salsa straight from the bag.
  • When I step into a room, I quickly recognize the outsider, the defensive stranger, or the awkward lingerer who wants to join it but carries doubts in their eyes. I also see the longing because I carry it too. Whether on Zoom or in a room, my first move is toward you. 

Leaning In

The message I carry is “you are seen, you are known, you are loved.” It isn’t a trite phrase. I’ve learned it and lived it and now carry this message with me like a warm coat in an ice storm. I’m not a natural hostess, in the traditional sense. But I do hold space for those who most need to be seen.

Come on over. Chase, our big Golden Shepherd, will try to lick your face. I’ll likely pull you into a hug unless that’s not your thing. I can respect boundaries. We’ll enjoy a casual meal and conversation. Laughter will flow freely. Hopefully, when you leave, we’ll already have a plan for our next visit. Just don’t compare my house to the Real Simple magazine on the coffee table, I’ll have to kick you out. Just kidding. I think I’ll throw the magazine away, or maybe you and I can try to make the recipe on page 116. Can you bring over some baking soda? See you soon.

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