I suck at inviting people over.
I have a pastor’s wife confession. I don’t invite people over to my house anymore. Well, not all people. Just certain people.
Inviting a friend for dinner… and an epiphany
A while back, we had a friend over for dinner. That friend had been staying with mutual friends of ours. Those friends happen to host all the best events. Upon entering the house, the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m sorry it’s not as good over here. They are probably spoiling you with WAY better food!”
Those were the FIRST WORDS out of my mouth! Like, before hello!
I had no idea the extent of my insecurity until this moment as I heard the words come out of my mouth. Why did I feel the need to start our night like that? Was I so worried that I didn’t measure up that I had to start by letting him know that he needed to lower his expectations?
I’m a jerk!
Then, it dawned on me that I never invite those friends over. I consider them good friends of ours, but they always host fabulous parties. They have a better house, she is a better cook, they have more fun stuff than we do, so I guess my sub-conscience didn’t feel good enough for them.
You guys… I am ridiculous! These friends are the most generous, accepting, and self-sacrificing people I know, but for some reason, I had created this false narrative in my mind. I felt as if everyone would be comparing me to them. Like maybe they would be disappointed if I hosted something. And so I stopped hosting things. I’m not sure when exactly this thought crept in, but I can see that it had a huge impact.
Thinking it through
First, I want to say that when I take a step back and think about it rationally, I don’t believe these thoughts I’m having are real. Second, even if it is true, WHO FREAKING CARES?! I shouldn’t be inviting people over so that I can prove I am the best hostess. MY “Super Star Host” friends are not trying to prove anything. They just love people! They use their gifts and resources to bless others because that is who they are. It is about relationships, not stuff. I freaking know this!
Making a change and inviting people over
The frustrating thing about this for me is that I used to host everything. I would invite people over for all the holidays and any random night. Throwing together a meal to feed a bunch of people was something I was great at when we lead a ministry of college students. I even did it in the early days of our church plant and thought nothing of it. I’m not sure when I let that thought of not measuring up creep in, but I will say that because of it, I am missing out on lots of relationships.
So from this moment forward, I am going back to putting the relationships first, both old and new.
Hospitality doesn’t mean I am the best cook or have the best stuff. It means I am willing to welcome people into my home and life. Strengthening relationships is the primary goal. I hope to invite people to my house who are different than me. I want to become acquainted with people I wouldn’t necessarily build friendships with because they are in other circles. One of the blessings of being a pastor’s wife is getting to know people who I wouldn’t otherwise. I have met some of my favorite people that way.
Inviting new people into my life is uncomfortable for me because, if I’m honest with myself, I am someone who likes to have only a few close friends. I’ve been hurt in the past, and it’s easy to put up a wall. I’m attempting to bring down the wall.
Keeping it easy
Thinking back to when I used to host everything, I didn’t stress over being the best cook. I mostly stressed over the house being a mess. That is no longer an issue because I have taught my kids to do the ten-minute clean up.
Rotisserie chicken was my best friend. Consequently, I loved to set up salad bars and street taco bars. Additionally, a “build your own pizza” night is another fun and easy thing to do… and a favorite of my kids. We use pita bread for the crust and stick it in the oven until the cheese melts.
A friend of mine created a “build your own salad bar” with this Ice Chilled 5-compartment condiment serving caddy, and I absolutely love it. She has 2 of them and is an all-star hostess! I think it is the perfect accessory to be ready for friends to come over. I’m ordering one, and I can’t wait to use it for all of my favorite easy meals.
For me, the cooking part is the most stressful. Therefore, I love these simple meals to provide a fun time with friends without the stress of cooking. That is what the focus should be on anyway, right?! Building relationships.
Here are three easy, “no-cook” meals that can be “assembled” when you invite people over
Street Taco Bar: shredded rotisserie chicken, cilantro, onion (we use green onion or yellow, depending on what we have on hand), cheddar cheese, corn tortillas, black beans, chips, salsa
Salad Bar: Romaine lettuce, rotisserie chicken, hard-boiled eggs, bacon bits, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, olives, tomatoes, and assorted salad dressings.
Or try this Summer Cobb Salad. It has my favorite dressing of all time!
Pizza Bar: We use leftover veggies from our salad bar to top build-your-own pizzas. We also use greek flat bread, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Then, I stick them in the oven at 425 until the cheese melts (8-10 minutes).
If you still need help getting motivated, there is a fantastic book by Jen Schmidt called Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation. I loved this book and plan to keep it in my library to read over and over again.