When I was newly married, my husband and I would invite friends over for dinner to hang out and catch up. Our dinner parties were usually on an evening during the week after working a full day. I remember feeling like these were big events happening in my life and I put a lot of pressure on myself thinking that they had to be perfect.
I worried that there wouldn’t be enough food, not everyone would enjoy what I had cooked, was my house tidy enough for when people came over? Would there be enough space for everyone to sit comfortably? What would we do once the meal was finished? Would there be awkward gaps in the conversations?
Kinda crazy when I look back on it and I see a lot of time wasted worrying about nothing, especially because that is not the purpose of hanging out with our friends and fellow-shipping. The most important thing is not the type of food we eat, whether or not my house is tidy enough but instead the quality time we spend with our friends talking and sharing the happenings in our lives. This is a time where we encourage and be encouraged, help and be helped and experience in the joys or sorrows of each other’s lives.
We all know the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus comes to visit. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening and fellow-shipping with Him while Martha was distracted with other household tasks. I love in the Message version of Luke 10 where Jesus tells Martha that she is “getting worked up over nothing”. She is fretting that Mary is not helping and therefore she’s becoming overwhelmed with everything she thinks she has to do.
Mary, on the other hand, is investing in the time she is spending with Jesus and I am sure using it to build up her faith, feed her Spirit and to be encouraged. She sees the importance of fellowship. How many times did I miss the importance of fellowship and being built up because I was too distracted mentally worrying about how the food would taste or if my home was tidy?
A few years on, and we now have kids thrown into the mix of our dinner parties, of which just that in itself puts a whole other spin on things. Yet, I have become more relaxed and actually now enjoy the preparations for our dinner parties. I have realized that in actual fact it is not about me and how I appear to other people, but it is about being real with our friends and having the chance to serve them.
I have come to learn that although it is nice to have a clean house, fancy food and matching chairs these are not the most important things in life. I have come to realize that people actually just want to hang out and spend quality time together. They want an opportunity to share the struggles and triumphs in their lives, to be encouraged, to ask for advice and to simply know that they are on the right path and be able to do life with fellow Christians.
Everyone has a gift, a talent, experience and testimony that will serve the purpose of helping and encouraging a friend. God designed us to be relational beings with Him and with each other. He created us to serve others with what we have and to bring people into our lives to share in it with us, and to hopefully be a blessing to others.
If that means we eat pizza together while sitting on the floor of my lounge, drop crumbs, spill drinks and get interrupted by a multitude of kids every few minutes – then I am in. My home is a place that you can treat as your own – I’ll just do all the tidying up when you leave.