Growing up in the South, I often pictured hospitality with Sunday potlucks, front porches, and bridal showers decorated with sprays of flowers and giant crystal punch bowls. I thought hospitality required being more like Martha than Mary. And it all seemed pretty exhausting.
However, one of my greatest discoveries in the last five years of marriage is that hospitality usually looks less like a magazine and more like, you know, real life.
Despite scrolling through a daily cleaning chart that promises “sparkle and shine in five minutes a day,” there never seems to be enough hours in a day to maintain our house like the cleaning fairies on Instagram.
I always notice all our flaws about 10 minutes before the guests arrive. Dust bunnies that might as well become family pets (when I vacuumed the day before), and dirty dishes in the kitchen sink (because I’m really good at using all the pots and pans).
Occasionally, you might hear me speaking louder than my normally loud voice (a.k.a., “shouting”) at Brian from the kitchen to clean the bathroom before the doorbell rings.
And I’m always at the point of browning the top of the French bread, while simultaneously not burning the whole loaf, when some sweet precious soul shows up early to distract me from this seemingly simple task talk about all the details of their day.
Eventually, I realized that perfection is always one grand Pinterest idea out of reach. Thankfully, at the Crain house we have learned that it’s okay to be authentically ourselves.
We hope that by being real with others, they can feel free to be real with us, too. As guests enter our home, we want them to feel cozy and welcomed, not like they are entering a picture-perfect museum. In our home, bring on the taco nights, Johnny’s Pizza and paper plates!
Once I quit chasing perfection, I found a joy serving with Brian by opening our front door with the best kind of things: food, faith, conversation and most importantly, people. Jesus was always about people.
In the midst of our busy lives, we’ve hosted college students, co-workers, community groups, house church (pre-launch Progression Church), neighbors, first time guests, parties, showers, and marriage counseling sessions. And it’s not because we score 100 in hospitality on our spiritual gift test.
Brian and I agree that Jesus loved people, and we want to be more like Jesus. We’ve learned the value of sharing our lives and our home with others, because we are stewards of all these good gifts.
Although our house hasn’t been featured in Southern Living, we’ve been able to welcome conversations of faith, college midterms, and just everyday life. We’ve come to realize that if we wait for the perfect house or the perfect day or the perfect menu, then we will miss out on the blessings of community and conversation.
With weekly or monthly planning and prayer, Brian and I are able to steward the time in our week—filled with work, date nights and my treasured “me-time”—to also experience awkward first dinners, crying over the hard things, or uncontrollable laughter with others around the table in our home.
By prioritizing our time with God, one another, and then everyone else, God has allowed Brian and me to share our imperfections and the grace and kindness that we’ve been shown to step into His Kingdom work. And building God’s Kingdom is worth the effort and really is the best kind of work.