Last night, we were invited to our friends' house for dinner.....and this particular friend is always that way. Laurie answers the door all calm and collected. No smoke alarms going off. No nervous pit stains on her blouse. All the food timed perfectly. David takes the meat off the grill just as the potatoes finish cooking. The rolls and pie crust- both the shade of golden brown only seen on the cover of the Southern Living Annual Recipe Book. Everyone is relaxed.
I consider any hostess, who doesn't sweat through their clothing during the party, to have the gift of hospitality. That would rule me out. I look and feel like I am on fire when we have people over. Don't get me started on how my heart beats like a bass drum in my ears.
Now, it's not that I can't cook or that I don't know how to set a table or design a centerpiece. It's the fact that there's just so much to think about. Timing the food. Fretting over its doneness. Imagining the ER full of your friends in 4-6 hours with abdominal cramping and projectile vomiting. Is everyone's tea glass full? Is the conversation flowing or did I hear a few seconds of silence? Is there enough food? Are their children really swinging from my curtains? She didn't eat much of her corn casserole.....wonder if it's too salty. Oh, my word.....look at the size of that cobweb in the corner of that window. I hope the dog isn't doing what I think he's doing to his stuffed toy. I should have put another clove or two of garlic in this. Oh, no, did I point the knife blades in the right direction? Are they having fun....because I'm not. Is it hot in here? (One thing I've learned is that any hostess, who is not blessed with the gift of hospitality, has in internal body temperature 5-8 degrees warmer than that of her guests. Fact.)
It may shed some light on my hospitality inadequacies to know that Blair tagged me in this video, a few months ago, as it reminded her so much of me before company arrives.
Anyway, Mary clearly forgot that the main goal of entertaining is actually visiting with the people you've invited into your home. It's hard to do that when you're sweating profusely and counting heads to see if you have enough lasagna and salad forks to go around. I imagine it would be super duper stressful if your guest was the Son of God. What if you saw Jesus sit down in the chair where the cat usually sits knowing how bad she sheds? Or if you thought his chicken breast was too dry. Or if there were water spots on his tea glass. Or if one of your kids blurted out something about how you say bad words, sometimes. So, yeah, I can totally relate to Martha. She had a lot on her mind and if her cloak wasn't soaked completely through, I'd be amazed.
Now, Mary.....well, she was a different story. I suspect she did have the gift of hospitality. She was sitting down and not worried about anything but communing with her visitor. First and foremost, she was going to visit with her most distinguished guest in the history of forever. She was probably thinking that when they got done and were ready to eat, she'd go in there and help Martha serve it up real fast. Mary, how did you do it? So relaxed. Hello, um, Jesus is at your house!!
I may not have the gift of hospitality which is why I usually suggest we just meet our friends at restaurants. What I do have, though, is the gift of focusing on all the wrong things. I'm super talented that way. I'd like to think that if I'd been Mary and Martha's roommate and Jesus had come to our house that I could've discerned what was important and what wasn't. I'd like to think I would've spent more time listening to what I needed to hear instead of worrying that the pillows weren't fluffed on the sofa or that there was a dust bunny under Jesus' wingback chair. But, I can't be too sure that's where my mind would've been.
Jesus told her, "Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. Only one thing is essential and Mary has chosen it....." Luke 10:41-42 MSG
Ouch. That hits all of us Marthas in the face. In entertaining and in life, I hope that whenever I get the chance, I'll choose the substance over the surface. That I'll focus on the presence not the pretense. That I'll look at the content not the cobwebs. That's where the best of life is.
Y'all have a good one!