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  • Deanna Kohlhofer

Scruffy Hospitality

We had family dinner last night. There were ten of us crammed into a tiny dining room. Once we got our plate and sat down, we were there until the first person was brave enough to squeeze through an inch opening between chairs and set forth a domino effect of movement. One of these days I will buy that card table to set up nearby and give us a little more breathing space…

I have grand plans for remodeling this old home of mine – especially the kitchen, dining, and living room where we tend to spend most of our time. I envision a more spacious, welcoming environment over the current cramped quarters. I wish for comfy furniture rather than the worn and torn seating I can currently offer. I desire a bright and open space which invites my guests in to cozy up with coffee and conversation. Instead, the floorboards are in dire need of repair, the walls need a fresh coat of paint, the furniture needs to be replaced, and the décor needs to be updated. And that is just a fraction of my wish list. But since my bank account gives me a budget of -$10, none of my remodel plans will come to fruition any time soon.

So, what is a girl who loves to open her home supposed to do?

As I stood in the corner watching my rambunctious middle child rapid fire a nerf gun in my tiny space (he is 25, by the way…), I suddenly realized I should do exactly what I have done – open my home.

Yes, it is tiny. Yes, it is kind of dreary, especially in the winter when the windows are closed and the blinds are shut tight. Sure, it could use a few updates, and eventually I’ll have some extra time and money to get to them. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that really matters.

I read an article that has been floating around the Facebook world regarding hospitality. The article was from 2016 and was about embracing the idea of “scruffy hospitality.” It is funny how a four year-old article can still be floating around the internet and capturing attention today, isn’t it? Well, it seems I have been practicing scruffy hospitality for a long time. If only I had given it a catchy name…

I bring up the article to make a point though. I think hospitality is a lost art, along with so many other things (I mean, who misses those great church potlucks?). I think it would be good – like world changing good – if more of us ditched the notion that our homes must be “perfect” in order to be welcoming. Perfect is non-existent. What we need is simple willingness. The people you invite into your home aren’t going to remember they noticed you didn’t dust. Their primary memory will be about the community and fellowship the time in your home provided.

So, go ahead. Tidy up a bit (because no one wants to see dirty socks on the floor), but don’t feel pressured to make your space spotless. Don’t let your old, outdated home deter you from inviting people in. Squeeze ten people into a space designed for four. Start a conversation and then sit back and watch what happens. The world can be changed as individual doors are opened and homes are filled with love, laughter, questions, conversations, and whatever else you are willing to embrace. No matter what it looks like, there is nothing that will compare to the love and friendship that emerge as you say yes to “scruffy hospitality.” You can even bring out the nerf guns.

Saying yes with you,