The Generous Vulnerability of Hospitality

HOME: A PLACE TO GROW COMMUNITY

Last August, my husband and I moved and purchased a new home. It is a much larger home than our prior house and, honestly, is more than we ever dreamed. It is an amazing blessing and a way we truly saw God at work in our lives. With this extra space, we look forward to the ways we can bless others. We hope to help children and families that are walking through difficult times. We also want to open our home to friends and family as much as possible. We want to share our home, this immense blessing, with those in our lives. We desire for our home to be a place where we can be open, honest, vulnerable, and generous with others.

We hope our home is a place where community is fostered.

Last week, I wrote a post about our desire to be known. To be able to share our stories and be truly seen and understood. Without judgement. To live in true and beautiful community. It is something I am passionate about because I have seen the change in my own life when I intentionally moved to live in community. Yes. I moved for community, though this move is actually two-fold. I literally moved because of my desire need to live in community. I also had to get myself to a place that could live in authentic and vulnerable community. Really, community is just that vital and an amazing display of grace in my life. If you are not feeling that community. If it is missing in your life, please, please contact me. I would love to stand with you, together, in this virtual community.

hospitality

Fostering community; real, true community can be difficult. You have to put yourself out there. You need to vulnerably invite people into your story, your world. You can do this by sharing your story with them. By sharing your life in an honest and open way. But you can also do this by inviting them into your home. By being hospitable. I grew up in a home where people were always welcomed. There was always plenty of food to eat, to share and people were always invited, even to just stop by. I loved that and hope to create a similar atmosphere. I want friends and family to feel welcome and at home in my home. I want them to know it is a safe place. A place they will be met with unconditional love.

HOSPITALITY 

I think about what it means to be hospitable. Frequently, I think it means having a clean home. Having all our laundry out of sight (and really, ideally, folded and put away). Having a perfectly swept floor, empty kitchen sink, tidy kitchen counters. Yet nowhere in the definition of hospitality does cleanliness come up. Instead hospitality is defined by the treatment of people. It is defined by the intention. The heart behind the action. The heart behind the welcome. Hospitality is marked by generosity and friendliness.

So I reframe. I start again. I desire to be show hospitality. I shift my focus. I remember that hospitality is about generosity. Generosity with my space. Generosity with my story. Generosity with my honesty. And I realize, the hospitality I offer looks differently with each of the people we are welcoming. There are friends that feel most welcomed by a tidy home. They appreciate the thought and care made to clean for them. To show them that they are important so I make time to tidy my home. (I should pause and say, I try to never have a ‘dirty’ home. But there are times when the clean laundry has not made it’s way upstairs or the dishes haven’t made it to the dishwasher, or I haven’t dusted or mopped or…) There are other friends that prefer to see evidence of children, of mess. I have to admit, this seemed strange to me. I prefer tidy. I prefer perfect. But of course, life is neither of these. So I have learned to relax. To live with grace and give that grace to myself and those in my community.

Thankful

Recently, a friend came over to a pile of clean laundry covering the floor. I had forgotten to pick it up and put it away. And she felt relieved. My mess made her feel welcomed. Honestly, it made her feel known. I was generous with my truth, with the reality of my daily life. With the struggles of my daily life. And that generosity made her feel known and understood. It made her feel safe to share her story. Her life. We were able to talk about the difficulties of mothering so many littles. We were able to share “me too.” And we were able to be known. And that, is what hospitality is all about.

The generosity and vulnerability of hospitality are so intricately wound together. We must be generous with our space, our home. We must be vulnerable to share our stories and even our mess. Oh this generous vulnerability. It may be one of the hardest places to live. Generously.Vulnerable. We must bravely step out of our comfort zones. To risk being known, to risk sharing our mess. But the reward. Oh, friends! The reward, such grace, is found in the true community built. The community forged from generous vulnerability. Community created by a welcoming heart.


With summer beginning, can I urge you to step out and welcome others? To reach out to your neighbors and friends and welcome them. Truly welcome them. To meet them with a generous vulnerability. To encourage them to feel known and to be known, yourself. To show those around you hospitality. And to create true community. 

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27 thoughts on “The Generous Vulnerability of Hospitality

  1. You have such a gift for showing hospitality with ease & intention. You truly make people at home (speaking from personal experience) 😉 Thank you for sharing your heart on this- it was encouraging & inspiring. And thank you for the way you show hospitality ❤

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  2. Love this Ashley – yes, hospitlaity is not Pottery Barn Patio Furniture and drinks made from a pinterest picture. It’s grace and love and welcome and generosity no matter where you are or what you have. Thanks for welcoming your friend with laundry everywhere, we all need to do this more, be more vulnerable and show our true selves. Thanks for the encouragement to be vulnerable with the little parts of our lives, such a good reminder.

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  3. This has been on my mind a lot lately with buying a house and the coming of summer. Even in our small apartment, I had the desire to be more open with my space, but for me, the struggle isn’t so much in cleanliness or vulnerability as it is in time. I let weeks go by without thinking of inviting people in because I get so stuck in my own head. I want to have the kind of home where people feel comfortable and welcome coming by anytime (I love what you said about there always being plenty of food to share when you were growing up), but I know I need to be the one to establish that — it won’t just happen on its own!

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    • I completely agree, Brittany! Time has a way of speeding past before I even realize it has gone. These past few months, since moving, I have tried to be extremely intentional about inviting people into our home. The difficulty, for me, is in balancing that desire for community with rest, Sabbath, and margin. After a few months of too many people on weekends, Greg and I decided to try to invite 2 families over each month, intentionally. And then established relationships on the other 2 weeks. Those friends where last minute plans work and are easy to accommodate. (Which with our own 4 littles, is a hard plan to actually execute.) So far it has made for better, more intentional community while leaving our family time to be and to rest.

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  4. I love this statement, “The generosity and vulnerability of hospitality are so intricately wound together.” I’m so accustomed to doing what I always saw my mom doing growing up and she continues to do even when it’s just myself or the grandkids visiting – scurrying to clean up before company arrives and it is stressful. It’s a tough balance though because I do think guests have a certain expectation too. Thank you for the reminder to live hospitably.

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    • I completely agree, Erin! I get so sucked into that scurry! And when I miss things I apologize incessantly! But I think the heart of it all is what is important. Of course, tidiness is hospitable – people don’t won’t to come into someplace that is disgustingly dirty, but I think when we create a perfect home we lose out on authentic relationship and people feel less welcome to truly live for fear of their mess being too much. Thank you for stopping by!

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  5. This is so great! I love that you moved to be in greater community. We have thought about that for a long time. Buying a big ol’ house with some dear friends and living together and starting an intentional community. Without relationship we really do begin to perish.
    I also love the generous vulnerability and how that creates hospitality. Being perfect doesn’t make people comfortable, being authentic does. Love it.

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  6. This post spoke to the heart of where I’m struggling right now…

    Thank you for the gentle encouragement to step out of my comfort zone to be intentional. Indeed there is a vulnerability when we intentionally “put ourselves out there” and that vulnerability makes me shy away from those situations, but I know there are such blessings that come when we practice hospitality in a genuine way.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’m so glad I stopped by. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Karen. I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement. It can be so hard to be fully vulnerable. I am the same way, I prefer not to be, but when I do. When I bravely risk it all, oh my! It is amazing! Praying for you as you step out, bravely!

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  7. What a great post! If everyone thought the way you do, this world would be so much more welcoming! Be prepared. I can tell you from years of experience that when our hearts (and homes) are open to Daddy, he brings in those who are hungry for more than food, tired and need more than a bed and thirsty for more than lemonade.
    I can’t tell you how many people we’ve housed and loved over our thirty two years of marriage, but the greatest ones were my parents that both accepted Jesus into their hearts…dad was 78 and mom was 81! One never knows the impact opening your lives to family and strangers will have…mom is in heaven now~
    May He fill your heart with His desires and use you guys to affect history in your community!

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    • Thank you so much! I completely agree. We have housed people and have seen the fruits of that as well as from other relationships. It is amazing how we can be used in ways we never would have thought! Thank you for stopping by and reading!

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      • You’re welcome. The fruit has usually meant that I have had to let go of any and all my expectations!!!
        If you get a chance, stop by my new site, The Magnificent Mundane and have a great day!

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  8. I love this post! It is something I too desire/need. I love having people into our home and being hospitable, and though I consider myself a genuine person, sometimes I do get caught up on the superficial aspects of hospitality: having a perfectly clean home, a beautifully set table, the facade of perfection. Now that we have a baby, I am learning to relax my standards. I don’t like dirty or super cluttered, but I it is not the end of the world if I haven’t made it around to dusting or mopping. It is about the vulnerable, real and genuine connection with others. God has really been teaching me that lately. Plus, with my husband in youth ministry, many of our guests are teenagers and their standards are not high. 😉 Vulnerability is really something my husband and I have been seeking and trying to embrace. But it is hard, especially when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and then are rejected for it. But, we are committed to it nonetheless. It is hard in ministry to feel the pressure to “have it all together”, but vulnerability and genuine relationships are very much needed within the church!

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    • Yes! Love all that you said, Nathana! Can I be honest and say my floors have been mopped twice since moving in August. 😁 But really, we do get caught up in the facade. And while making people feel welcome is important, we can also make people feel unwelcome by the “perfect.” I can only imagine how hard it must be in ministry to manage perceptions with authentic vulnerability!

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  9. Great post. I think especially in the summertime, we can get so busy with our own things and often times forget to slow down and really put ourselves out there for the sake of others… and sometimes that just means being ourselves. Thanks for sharing this, Ashley!

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