Hospitality, Revisited

I have mentioned that I am not much into household hospitality: having people in my home isn't really my thing, love people though I do. I was recently convicted how I may not offer someone the gift of my time when someone made me feel lesser about my money. Let me explain.

When I quit teaching, Troy and I took a gamble on my writing career that, thus far, hasn't paid off too well financially. We eat, we do okay, Troy provides for us quite well and God has taken care of all of our needs, but there is not a lot of room for extras in our budget. Partly for that reason, and partly for health reasons, we don't eat out often. I don't mean we don't eat at fancy restaurants often, but frequently pick up fast foods. I mean we rarely purchase any food not prepared in this kitchen.

Not long ago, we were leaving somewhere with someone I know fairly well who I thought would be aware of our (financial) circumstances. Both families were heading out to eat anyway, and we discussed going somewhere together. I mentioned my criteria, hoping to keep the meal within my family's budget. I got laughed at: "Oh, that's only because you want to get your way." Then, ironically, that person continued to steer the choices so that they could get their way. Since at this point I was too embarrassed to say anything else, I agreed to something that was far outside of our budget. I didn't enjoy the meal since we ended up spending about twice what we would have for a meal.

I was annoyed at myself for not speaking up, but I thought about the message I got from that person: "Come along if you like, but to spend time with us, you have to fit in, spend a certain amount, and go/do where I want." Gotcha.

Not much later, we were in the same situation with a different family -- one that we don't really know as well. The conversation went a little differently. In short, it was, "Whatever you guys need. Great with us!" The message I got was, "It doesn't matter what you choose, we just want to spend time with you. That's the important part." I paid a lot less for that meal and enjoyed it much more -- mainly because I felt welcomed and accepted for who I am and what works for me and my family.

I hope that I am the last one to make someone feel left out because of finances, but I'm sure there are some people that my kids go to school with that simply can't keep up with the $5 here and $15 there for t-shirts, fees, what-have-you, etc.

On top of that, I think of the most valuable commodity I have: my time. If someone needs any of my time, I fear I may try to cram them in a corner of my day when it works for me. May I never embarrass or make anyone feel less-than because of the left-over of my time that I try to offer them.

Continuing to work on this hospitality business...

1 comment:

Amanda Pittman said...

Thanks, as always, for your honesty. Sharing a very similar budget situation, I can completely sympathize with the conundrum of going out with people not sensitive or considerate to budget restrictions. And with all the feelings associated.

Thanks for reminding me to always be on the look out for ways to show hospitality with the resources God has given me right now. For despite my occasional frustration with our limitations, we are so richly blessed.

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