I’ve been a mom for almost my entire experience in overseas ministry, and often I feel like I hear and experience the expectation that hospitality will naturally be the ideal ministry for me because I am at home with my kids much of the time. Usually I think people expect that it is one of the easier ways for young mothers to be involved in ministry and I’ve assumed this generalization to be truth until a recent freeing revelation. Hospitality is really hard for me, especially because I am a mom!
|My sweet daughter "helping" me wash mushrooms that we were preparing for guests. She decided her little toys needed to use the scrubbing bowl as a swimming pool.|
I have often explained to my husband that trying to get our home ready for guests or events is like trying to build a brick building in the middle of an earthquake. Just as soon as I get one brick stacked, or rather one thing cleaned up or completed, the earth rumbles and multiple other bricks come crashing down, a.k.a. my little ones have urgent needs or the baby accidentally makes a mess out of the things that I’m trying to prepare for our guests. Yesterday was a perfect example. I had been prepping some food and left the dishes in the sink while I went to try to set up the living room for our guests. While moving a table, my little one-and-a-half year old managed to push the chair over to the sink and was having a blast splashing around in the soaking dishes by the time I got back. Needing to focus energy and attention to get my home and food ready means less attention for the kids. Less attention for the kids means more messes and additional work.
Why am I writing this post? Am I trying to discourage us as mothers from practicing hospitality while we have little ones? Not at all! It is such a vital blessing and rich opportunity to minister to those around us. What I do hope to do, though, is to encourage you that this ministry that you are doing that might be seen by some as “easy” or “perfect” for moms, is actually really hard, especially for those of us to whom it does not come naturally! I personally think it is one of the harder things that we can do as mothers. It would be MUCH easier for me to leave my home and children and meet with people elsewhere, but hospitality is a gift of sacrificial love that we can give to people, and in reality, in some ways the logistics are easier since the kids are cared for at the same time that ministry is happening. But truly, hospitality on its own is a lot of work; Try to do it while simultaneously wrangling children and you’re effectively doing two jobs at the same time!
Also, this should be another post entirely, but remember that hospitality and Martha Stewart are not synonymous. A lot of us need to lower our own personal expectations, especially when we’re trying to care for little ones and host at the same time. There are times for elaborate spreads and times for simply inviting people into the mess of daily life. Both types of hospitality, and everything in between, can be equally as much of a blessing to those welcomed in.
How about you? Does hospitality come naturally, or is it a challenge? What are some ways that you’ve been able to minimize the stress of hospitality, especially in the phase of life with little ones?