The Heart of Hospitality

Originally published Monday, 14 December 2015.

Don't bypass the heart of the matter by Katie M. Reid


I am an idealist. That’s a fancy way of saying I have unrealistic expectations.


I want to serve a mouth-watering meal, with all the food groups, and act like money is not a restrictor to the menu. I dream of serving said meal in a Pinterest-pretty home that is dusted, shiny and clutter-free. I imagine that my four darlings will not interrupt the conversing adults and will be thoroughly entertained and independent while we visit with friends.


It all looks pretty in my head but something gets lost in the execution.


As an outgoing introvert I love the idea of hosting people; I just want to hide out once they show up.


I like to think that I prepare for others calmly, but my family knows better. They get out of the way as Host-zilla emerges, barking orders to pick-up and help out and shouting out an exasperated, “Yes! We have to vacuum right now so the house looks great when they arrive.”


Then the guests come and I am worn-out and we all try to put on a happy face and act like preparing for their arrival was no big deal and aren’t we so glad they are here?!


Of course we are glad they came but the frenzy beforehand leaves me feeling like a hypocrite.


A controlling woman makes for a less-than gracious hostess. That’s me, the Tightly Wound Woman, who wants everything just so. Thankfully I married a Mr. Steady who was born with a hospitable heart.


He’d just assume feed the guests cereal and step over toys on the way to the couch then act irritable to our guests. His culinary repertoire might be lacking but his heart is welcoming as he greets our guests and makes them feel at ease.


Maybe I’ve got it all backwards? I am busy cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is cracking from all the pressure I put upon it (see Matthew 23:23-28).


I am so concerned with how nice everything looks and tastes that I bypass the heart of the matter.


Flour hands by Katie M. Reid


The guests, our friends, want to be known. They desire conversation more than quality ingredients. They want to be seen and heard more than they want to go pin my recipe or post my fireplace mantel on Instagram. #wowthisgirlknowshowtodecorate


Hospitality…such a loaded word that actually means something quite simple; to receive.


I focus too much on what I am giving that I forget to receive those in front of me by being present and imperfect and welcoming them into the real.


We allow others into our crazy and somehow grace finds us there.


We let conversation marinate and don’t rush the silence and we begin to boil up with joy and laughter. Tears also come as we confess the pain we are walking through and dare to whisper the untidy questions that keep us up at night.


And this is where true hospitality is found…somewhere in the cracks, between courses, in stepping over Legos and overlooking the mismatched pillows, and in enjoying the person rather than what they brought—or forgot to bring.


And I breathe a little deeper and smile a little wider and get a little braver since this is what is required of me: just an open heart as I choose to open the door (instead of hiding out while hubby greets the guests); just a little time in the scheme of the day to see what’s beneath the surface of a friend’s heart; just a willing hand to offer what I have, even if it’s just a bowl of cereal and a listening ear.


As we receive those that come our way with grace and authenticity we all feast on a bounty of blessings.


Maybe hospitality has very little to do with food or the condition of our homes and much more to do with the presence of a welcoming heart amidst the mess.


With Grace,



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