Almost every night, I sit my daughter in her high chair with its food stained cover. She giggles and picks over her food as my husband and I sit on either side of her in soft but worn suede chairs. They’re chairs marked by years of cat climbs, cat scratches, and dinners in a home other than my own. The table we gather around has a similar story; it, too, was well loved by others before it reached my home. I often try to disguise its warped wood with table settings that show my best attempt at something beautiful.
With full plates in front of us, we fold our hands and bow our heads, giving thanks for meals that have been prepared again and again in aged pots and pans that have seen more than their fair share of burns and bubble-overs.
And then we eat, enjoying those precious minutes together.
Our hearts become so full in that space. And I want so much for others to know the feeling it brings. Yet, it’s hard to get past this feeling that it’s somehow not good enough to share.
I tend to move through each year holding on to resolutions and declaring that once something happens—I redecorate that room or get rid of that old table and its chairs—I will share. Or I grumble at the thought of sharing before that something happens.
Before you know it, another year is over and I haven’t made the effort to share my space with anyone. I’m just waiting for a moment that may never come: a moment when I think everything looks perfect.
Chasing perfection always makes it hard to reflect on a year gone by. Though I remember the good times, I seem to dwell on the opportunities lost, the goals still unaccomplished, and the expectations left unmet. I walk around with a heart full of would haves, should haves, and could haves. And I carry them right into the next year.
I don’t want to spend another year waiting for the “perfect” time to show hospitality to others, and not taking opportunities to open my home, serve others, and share what I have. And as a child of God, I shouldn’t.“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)
Time and time again, I accept the generosity of others who have similar feelings about their homes but don’t let those feelings hold them back. They open their doors, allowing me to sit on couches and at tables that have their own stories of imperfect pasts. They welcome me into kitchens where they make their own familiar meals and leave the messes for later. They engage me even when the floors show evidence of touchdown by a toddler-sized tornado. And through it all, I hardly notice the mess they perceive; what I see most is the beauty of their kindness.
As we move forward into the new year, may we remember that God doesn’t set the limits on hospitality we often set for ourselves. We don’t have to have new furniture, a nicer house, more money, or a new arsenal of recipes. All we have to do is willingly share what we have.
After all, God has the power to make our broken things beautiful—by turning our imperfect homes into places for friends and neighbors to laugh, cry, and delight in the things he’s given to nourish us.