Last month many of us made New Year’s goals (lose weight, exercise regularly be happy, save money, get organized, eat healthier), because quite honestly, we jumped at the opportunity for a fresh start.
We love new. We want discipline. We want to wipe the slate clean–especially in the areas in which we know we’ve fallen short.
When a reader wrote me this question, it made me think that many women have experienced these exact feelings. Because we women know how to give, and give, and give… until our hearts are burned out, especially when it comes to practicing hospitality.
Dear Sandy …
I’ve entertained for years. No one else in our group of friends or community really does it! Oh, people say we should get together for dinner… “Let’s go out to eat…,” but no one opens up their homes for the real deal. I think I have adopted this really sad thought process that goes like this, “Well if no one else is going to make the effort why should I?”
Is there such a thing as a burned out hospitable heart?
Now my heart is hurting, after reading her heartfelt question. Yes, there is such a thing as a burned out hospitable heart. And this question makes me think of the more painful resolutions that women might have made over a month ago, ones like these–that hit you to the core!
- Stop procrastinating
- Make new or more friends
- Live instead of existing
- Be more confident
- Make a difference
- Be a better friend
- Live passionately
- Be more social
- Worry less
The recurring theme of these resolutions include people–and fear!
It’s all good
We’ve had the parties–dinners, barbeques, birthday celebrations, showers and going-away parties. We know we are to live, share, give and to feed others. That is what hospitality is all about! That is what living is all about! You plan the menu, use your creativity for setting a perfect table, think of the perfect guest list, you have every detail figured out from party-favors down to the relaxation by the fire at the end of the evening.
And then it’s over
And then something happens–BAM! Life around you changes, you live in a painful “empty nest” world or you’ve hit rock bottom. Your hormones have gone haywire, and more painfully–you might be dealing with some “trust” issues with family or friends. Life is just exhausting and you have no energy. You’ve been betrayed or a relationship sours.
It’s over! And as quickly as love grew in your heart to reach out to those around you, the love has ended. Your heart is wounded–you are finished. You have nothing more to give or offer.
It’s okay to take time off
I’ve always believed in seasons of practicing hospitality. It’s tough to give of yourself when you’re going through a rough patch, or have little kids under your feet, or your marriage is failing or you’ve lost a love one. Giving to others needs to come in a season of our lives when our spirit is right.
There was a season where my husband and I lost 3 of our parents. It was painful and exhausting. I’ve also taken the pressure off of myself when I had my babies, or when life has just been stressful in general–I’ve given in simpler ways to others. I’ve not put expectations on myself and overcomplicated what should be enjoyable! I’ve loved it when my friends waited on me during these seasons of life!
Get back the love
Intimacy with one another often means leaving our comfort zones! It also means practicing forgiveness for our hurts. When we feel hurt inside, do we just assume that it’s “ok” to feel this way, or do we check it out first? I read recently that 90% of anger in our hearts stems from frustrated plans or bruised egos.
It tells us that it’s okay to be ticked off, and then it tells us that we don’t have to forgive (because that person really doesn’t deserve it, right?)
Don’t make Problem Soup
Did you know that God says He will never give us more than we can bear? I think at times we make what my husband and I call Problem Soup out of situations – as in we read in too much, or we let fear consume us, or we mumble-jumble too many issues together–making one big pot of Problem Soup.
Forgive and move on
Forgiving and moving on from past hurts has one cure: Grace. It’s beautiful and it’s free. It’s refreshing and it overflows to those around us, including our guests. It covers up our pain and it’s something that we can never get enough of! Maybe the damaged relationship will no longer be the same, but neither does it need to be filled with animosity.
Think of one act of kindness to do for another person. If you don’t want to invite someone into your home, ask someone to join you in a safe place. Forge a new relationship. Start over again! We are to share with God’s people who are in need!
Bring people in
You don’t have to do it all. Remember the power of delegation when having guests over for dinner. Bring people in to help you out–to contribute. By doing it all yourself, you might be taking away another person’s blessing!
Relationships don’t just happen. They have to be nurtured and loved and protected. We want to be loved. We want more from each other. We need healing and grace.
We long for soul connection. It is possible to open your heart again to hospitality.
This Valentine’s month, I challenge you to have a heart-transplant if this is something you struggle with.
How about embracing a brand new couple? Or encouraging a lonely single friend? With love and not expecting anything in return, see if by your giving out you get something in return?
It might be the most fruitful Valentine’s month you’ve ever had!
Feel free to Ask Sandy … on her blog, www.reluctantentertainer.com, and read more about this subject and other entertaining dilemmas.
©2009, Sandy Coughlin