by Suzie Botross
“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15: 17
You could call me traumatised. I’m hoping I’m not alone. Is there anyone else out there who is over the daily grind and mundane routine of getting dinner on the table? I think I’ve been burnt a few too many times. You see, when I am excited about a new recipe, when I have gone over and above to get this baby on the table and I get asked, “What is this?” “I thought you knew that I don’t like spinach!” “Thank-you but I’m ok!” or my absolute favourite – “Can I have Maggie noodles instead?” – that doesn’t cultivate my desire to carry on cooking. I know, some of you with insanely well behaved and perfect kids are cringing right now.
Is it any wonder that I have developed a condition called FBO – Food Burn Out. And although when I last checked, FBO was not registered on the Psychological list of officially classified conditions, I’m telling you, it exists!
A few weeks ago as I was reading my Bible during my daily quiet time, God spoke to me through this verse: “Do not forget to show hospitality…” Hebrews 13:2. I paused. I knew that God was breathing right into a very practical area of my life (Yes, He does that!). Without boring you with the finer details, God was showing me that I had muddied the waters between food and relationship. You see, my FBO was affecting my heart for hospitality – not only with my family but also with our friends. My FBO was beginning to seep into the space of dinner invites and having people over was becoming a depleting chore. I had lost focus on the purpose of food (I know, I know, a balanced diet is critical, but that’s not where I’m going with this…)
So when Liss asked me to write about hospitality for her marvellous idea of this Christmas devotional (I’m honoured, by the way, Liss!) it transpired that God was hilariously not backing down on what He had communicated with me about 4 weeks earlier.
So although I’m not here to present my PhD research findings on the theological underpinnings of hospitality in the scripture, I am here to say that as per my current musings with God, hospitality is about building relationships. It’s about letting people into my world. It’s about showing them they are important to me; loved, treasured, worthy enough to be invited into my personal space, deserving of my attention, my time, my money and my resources. That’s what hospitality is to me.
I love that the book of Proverbs – predominately attributed to the wisdom of Solomon – says, “Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred” Proverbs 15:17. Solomon’s wealth could have easily afforded him filet mignon every night of the week, yet he understood that a small bowl of vegies served with love, eye contact, a warm smile, hearty conversations and authenticity (and hopefully a knob of butter!) sure beats the most exquisite item on the menu. Hospitality is a feeling you get, not a price tag you observe.
I’m not suggesting we all pull out our diaries and fill every spare evening with a dinner invite, but I am advocating that we seek God for who He suggests we welcome and invite for dinner next…because you see, genuinely loving others and demonstrating this via the act of hospitality essentially allows us to be little Jesus’ in our circle of influence. I want to be a living example of what Jesus would look like and what He would do with His mates and I want to genuinely love and bless His kids, just like He does. How about you? That certainly diffuses the view that hospitality is about an inverse relationship of me giving and someone receiving or that hospitality is about a spike in my grocery bill or about being exhausted and resentful and possessing a ‘you better appreciate this’ attitude and it certainly dismisses the ‘I hope they don’t judge me for my cooking skills’ line.
So here’s my challenge: This Christmas, why don’t you Prepare Him Room by slowing down to tap into the true meaning of hospitality. Sure, go all out if that’s what you love doing – I’m an unashamed Pinterest addict too…yep, Pinterest is one of my love languages – but if practical is your thing, then stick to who you are – but just remember that hospitality is a means to building a relationship, not building a repertoire. In fact, you can take this thought one step further and let it be your lifestyle, not just your Christmas motto.
Suzie Botross is Jesus obsessed. She is a wife, mum to 3, author of She Will Run and Break Free from Motherly Guilt, speaker, learning and development consultant and coach. You can find her online at www.devenir.com.au, www.botross.com.au or @suziebotross1