Aunt Jane’s Words of Wisdom

On Sunday, while my parents were here, we went to visit my Aunt Jane. She isn’t actually related to me, but I’ve grown up always knowing her as “Aunt Jane.” 🙂 She was one of my grandmother’s best friends and has loved my mom since she was born and in turn has loved me since I was born.

aunt janeMe with Aunt Jane in 2008

While we were visiting with her on Sunday, she made an offhanded comment about hospitality when she was my age. She mentioned inviting new people over to her home for tuna fish salad or bologna sandwiches. They were poor and all their friends were poor, but it was never about eating gourmet dinners. It was about spending time together. Living together in community. Sharing what they had. Not being embarrassed if their home wasn’t the best decorated or the cleanest. She talked about how it was such a simple time.

My head was spinning the whole time she was talking. I thought about how I scrub every inch of my house when people are coming over for the first time. I thought about how I stress over making a meal that everyone will not only enjoy, but LOVE. And I thought about how the only one putting all this pressure on me to do these things is… myself. My thoughts were still in a jumble until earlier this week when I was reading Angela’s latest blog post. She shared a quote from the book Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist which I am in turn going to share with you guys:

“But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition.  It’s an act of love, if you let it be.  You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval.  Or you can decide that every time you open the door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving.  You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving.  You can decide.” (page 195)

After reading her post, I realized how much I resonated with it. I honestly cannot imagine serving bologna sandwiches to a group of people the first time they enter my house. But why not? Maybe not bologna, but what about the staples I do always have on hand? Like a turkey sandwich or granola. Simple. More concerned with being together than preparing a feast.

I will say I am pretty lax about cleaning/cooking when it comes to people who are at my house frequently. Our closest friends, family, and my teen girls have all seen our house when it isn’t perfect and eaten what I had on hand that day. But the first time someone comes to visit our house, I really do go way overboard with trying to be sure everything is perfect.

I do love to cook. I don’t plan to stop making a delicious meal for days when we have company, but I want to be better about inviting someone who is hungry home at the drop of a hat. Even if it means that they see my house when it’s messy and are stuck eating turkey sandwiches with us. Because it really is about relationships and community, not just the food we share.

Love Rach

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29 responses to “Aunt Jane’s Words of Wisdom

  1. Love this post. A great concept– I think we’d live way more authentic lives if we weren’t so concerned about maintaining our image/people-pleasing. Totally guilty of that.

  2. This is simply splendid. I strive for “perfection” (whatever that is) when someone comes over to my house and it’s exhausting. And really – I’m the only one who cares what the house looks like! The stress is not worth the time, energy, and effort.

    Love this post!

  3. *ouch* yeah that hit me too!
    I often find that when i have people over for hte first time i want my house to be perfect.
    Even this weekend i’m having a group of people over to the house for the first time and i keep thinking “i need to do this and this and this and this”….when honestly no i don’t need to do those things, i’m inviting people in to spend time together. Who cares about the rest.

    • Definitely convicting. Talking to Aunt Jane helped me see how I had begun to lose sight of what is most important when it comes to hospitality – the people themselves. When I obsess over the cleanliness and perfect cuisine, I find myself focused on making sure everything is perfect instead of just enjoying time with whoever is visiting. 🙂

  4. I do have to admit I like to clean up or serve elaborate meals when people are new and are coming over, and I think cleaning up to an extent is just respectful, but I do think it’s a great idea to focus more on the people!

    • Yes! I definitely agree with you. I want people to feel at home in my home. I don’t want them to feel like they don’t have a place to sit down and rest because my stuff is out everywhere. I just get a wee bit obsessive with trying to make everything perfect the first time someone comes over. I easily lose sight of how it’s about spending time with my guests, not amazing them with my Martha-Stewart-ness. 🙂

  5. That is really such a good point. I do all of the same things when I know I am going to have company. I definitely go out of my way to scrub the house and prepare a lavish meal. I never really stopped to think just about the company and what the most important thing is the people you are sharing that meal with 🙂

  6. I love this and needed to hear it! We have people coming to stay the night tonight and I have been cleaning like a mad lady. I feel bad, because that means less time with me little one, but I have wanted everything perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  7. A couple of months ago, I was in an afternoon/evening college class, and I discreetly read a text message under the desk that our small group Bible study was going to be cancelled (due to our usual host being really sick)…unless someone else could offer their home as a meeting place last minute. It nearly KILLED me to text back and say we could have it at our apartment. I couldn’t remember how clean the house was. I kept texting my husband under the table with things like, “Did we leave any clothes lying around?” “Can you clean any dishes we may have left in the sink?” “How does the bathroom look?” Because of my evening class, I was the last person to arrive at my apartment. But it was fine! Everyone was just glad that we didn’t have to cancel. It’s nice to know that we all feel that apprehension about having people over at our houses…but even nicer to realize that we really DON’T need to worry so much about it.

    • YES! I have had this exact same experience! Having a group of people unexpectedly need a place to meet and it ends up being our house. It definitely sends me into a minor panic, haha! But like you said, it really shouldn’t. It’s not about everything being perfect. In general, I don’t think people are judging us as much as we worry they might. And if they are… well, maybe they aren’t the type of people we want to worry about impressing anyway?

  8. Totally agree! I seem to find this in other countries. The restaurant or pub might not be fancy, but it is about the company

  9. Amen girl! I’m struggling to grasp this myself. Especially if its out of town family. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Ahhh, I LOVE this post! I’m not a homeowner, but I can relate to wanting people to have good impressions, etc instead of simply relaxing and “letting it be” and enjoying the company! Thanks so much for this!

    • Yes, exactly! And being a homeowner hasn’t changed it much for me. I was this way when we lived in an apartment and I was this way when I was in college and shared a dorm room. So it definitely covers a broad spectrum!

  11. It sounds like she has such a great perspective! That is so cool!

  12. Love this girl!! Thanks for the link–I think you should definitely read the book you with LOVE it! I am slowly trying to change my perspective and realize that each opportunity is one of service and showing God’s heart–by taking the pressure off ourselves we can truly serve others through God’s blessing!

    • It is definitely on my to-read list! I love what you wrote about each opportunity being about serving and showing God’s heart. That’s so true! Once more, a reminder that all of this… it’s not about us! It’s about bringing glory to Him. 🙂

  13. Rach…this is sooo true. I long for simple days. Sometimes I get so nostalgic for the old days without social media, etc. but then I realize I can still work on making my home a place of love and welcome for all who enter! Love thsi post!

  14. I love this! It’s a great reminder on where our heart should be.

  15. Pingback: Oh, by the way, I have a blog… |

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