One of the things I am most excited about in terms of finally being a homeowner is the opportunity to serve others in my own home. Ever since I was a kid I have been drawn towards the idea of “hospitality.” For example, one of my favorite movies growing up was Dunston Checks In. Aside from the endearing relationship between the little boy and orangutan, I was most fascinated with the luxurious hotel and accommodations in the film. I was only eleven at the time that the movie came out, but the concept of providing such opulent comfort for travelers really drew me in. (Okay, so living in such opulent comfort might have had something to do with it too!)
As I got older, I became more and more convinced that I would somehow end up in the hospitality industry. I shadowed the general manager of a high-end hotel while I was in high school and spent countless hours researching the best programs to apply for in college. I envisioned myself wearing power suits and living in the penthouse suite of some fancy resort, catering to big shots a la Barney Thompson in Pretty Woman.
At this point, some of you who know me personally might wonder why these dreams never materialized. The only thing I can point to as the principle reason — fear. Fear of leaving my hometown and close proximity to family; fear of putting myself into too much student debt; fear of what others would think; fear of making the wrong career choice… just plain fear.
I would like to think that I have no regrets, though. My path definitely took me elsewhere, but my desire for hospitality is still a huge part of who I am. Of course, my idea of hospitality has certainly evolved since then, too. My dreams have changed from luxury hotels to homey B&B’s, from 5 star accommodations to generosity, humility, and grace. Steaming cups of coffee. Warm-from-the-oven muffins. Cozy kitchens and crackling fireplaces.
A major contributor to this shift in thinking — Jesus (and the people He put in my life to show me His love). One person that taught me a great deal about Jesus’ idea of hospitality has been a dear role model of mine since high school. Thelma has Jesus written all over her mind, body, and soul. She exudes grace and gentleness and peace. Every Thursday morning throughout my high school years (and for years before and after!), Thelma would open her home and feed a multitude of girls from church and school the most amazing breakfasts. Yummy blueberry muffins. Sweet and sticky cinnamon buns. Fresh fruit. Creamy egg casseroles. All on the most beautiful dishes.
Those breakfasts went beyond the delicious food and lovely dishware, though. It was during that time that I learned hospitality is not about 1000 thread-count sheets, but fellowship with one another. It was a time to enter into each others’ lives, grow in friendship, and pray for one another. Those mornings in my angst-filled teen years are certainly some of my fondest memories.
So here I sit on a Monday morning, following a wonderful beach getaway weekend with dear friends, reflecting on hospitality and wondering how I can fit more of it into my life. How I still have so much more to learn about the subject. How I can be more like Mary than Martha and not get caught up in the preparations, but focus more on relationships and God’s love. How I can use my new home to serve others. But most of all, how thankful I am that Jesus moved me beyond the luxury of a resort to the humbleness of His table.
P.S. Has a movie or book or someone in your life inspired your concept of hospitality? I’d love to hear your stories!