Today’s guest post is by Jacey from The Balanced Wife. Jacey hasn’t been blogging for long but she has a great writing style, a great heart and she’s another Carolina girl to boot.
In college, when I moved into my own apartment for the first time, I loved the idea of inviting people into it. My roommates and I hosted game nights and birthday parties.
We invited friends and boyfriends for lunch or dinner, cookie baking or popcorn and movie night. I’m surprised we didn’t all gain weight that year, between daily Ranch dressing consumption and frequent baked goods.
As much as I liked inviting people, perfectionist tendencies drove me to try to control every variable. I struggled to enjoy these orchestrated events, my head swimming with details.
I may have been a control freak, but I had a near delusional confidence in my entertaining and cooking skills. Sometimes my recipes didn’t turn out, or they took hours longer than expected, but I somehow maintained the belief that I excelled at all things domestic.
As I’ve ventured into an adulthood filled with talented friends and Pinterest boards, my confidence has wavered. When I frost a cupcake, it looks like a toddler did the job with finger paint.
I cannot see a room and picture furniture in it. I had a near meltdown picking paint colors when we moved into our current apartment.
That’s the other thing: we live in an apartment. An old apartment, with no central air conditioning and dingy, grey linoleum in the kitchen, a corner of which is missing since our dog ate it. We have IKEA furniture, some damaged by the move, and our house was damaged by a water leak there was in the ceiling, but luckily we fixed it with a great home improvement company, learn more here. I have avoided decorating due to budget constraints and general ineptitude.
I still invite people over, but only after clearing about 18 mental hurdles. The good news is, I’m having a breakthrough of sorts. And I’ll share it with you: my domestic insecurity stems from the premise that entertaining is a performance instead of an act of service. I feel uptight because I make entertaining more about me than about my guests.
The common theme among parties and gatherings I’ve enjoyed most is that I’ve felt honored, like the person who invited me was really glad I was there. Sometimes, the honor is extended by a handmade place card, sometimes by a slice of frozen pizza, sometimes by a last minute request that I bring something.
Universally, people crave inclusion and validation. When people come into my home, am I treating them like the guests of honor they truly are, or am I too afraid of their imaginary judgment to make them comfortable?
True hospitality is less performance, more service. As Shauna Niequist writes beautifully in Bread and Wine, “the heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.” My culinary, decorating and baking skills may not be anything special, but I can still make people feel special.
The love which says, “Come in, as you are; you belong here,” can feel far off when it’s clouded by our brokenness. If a good host can give the gift of true belonging, even if for one evening, then she has embodied the love of God.
Jacey loves good books and deep conversations. You can find her on her blog, The Balanced Wife, where she pursues exceptional living. She lives with her husband, Michael, and dog, Jack, in Charleston, SC.