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We’ve been talking about the proper Christian response, and what things help, when Hospitality becomes drudgery, when guests stay “too long” or they don’t help or they treat your home like it’s a hotel. For Christians, is there ever a time when we can ask guests to leave, or say we’ve been asked to do “too much” or that it’s “too long”?
Join in the discussion: read the comments and leave one of your own.
Today and tomorrow I’m going to address one particular frustration for some hostesses of long-term guests (visits of more than a day or two) that we have had to deal with: guests not helping with meal preparation and cleanup. Be sure and come back to read Part 3B!
As a hostess, I have never had trouble allowing, even asking, guests to help me, preferring “imperfect” help to no help at all. My feeling is, “It’s not a problem if I have to move things later to their proper place–I’m thankful for any help with the dishes.” And I am happy to instruct a guest how to do something in the meal prep, because I’m helping them to feel comfortable serving (in general, and specifically in the kitchen) for the next time. I’m also blessing them. Yes, giving them an opportunity to serve is blessing them. I don’t want to rob them of that blessing.
I frequently show people where to find cups and glasses in our kitchen the first moments they’re in my home, so they can help themselves to a drink of water. People tell me that they feel at home and enjoy the informality of helping themselves. When I treat them like family, they feel like family. (This especially applies to my grown children’s friends, who frequently stay overnight, join us for a meal, or use our shower on the way to an event–this needs an explanation, I suppose, but I’m not going to stop to give it to you now:) I do not expect elderly guests to serve themselves, but to them I show honor by serving them.
What I have, in the past, had trouble dealing with was when my children meal after meal flew out of the kitchen as soon as the meal was over, forgetting their chores, disappearing to entertain the guests’ children and have a grand old time playing, as though they were guests, too, while I felt stuck in the kitchen doing all the work.
Bitterness is not an acceptable response, so I talked to my husband about this situation, and he told me to keep the meals and preparation simple, not complain, and serve the Lord by serving others willingly in love, and then he instructed the children to stay inside until the kitchen was cleaned up.
I do not cook 3 meals a day for days on end for guests. Meals must include some of these options: eating a meal at a restaurant, grilling by my husband or the guests, asking the guests to cook a specialty of theirs, picnic food or deli food (e.g. hot dogs, watermelon and chips), ordering their favorite food delivered in (for instance, Chinese or pizza). I also serve leftovers for lunch, and simple breakfasts, such as cereal and fruit, or toast and cheese, or yogurt and fruit. Sometimes scrambled eggs, or what I call an Egg McWendy (a whole-wheat English muffin toasted, a round slice of Canadian bacon, a piece of cheese, and a poached/cooked egg.) If we make a big breakfast such as pancakes and eggs or an eggdish, muffins, and fruit, we skip or have a light lunch.
When I would get frustrated, it helped me just to be able to share my frustrations with my husband and be able to get some prayer support, too. Most of my frustrations centered on our children’s changed behavior and their expectations of getting out of work–especially when unsaved guests were in our home for extended periods–and the rudeness of our guests, and the tension that created (both are subjects I’ll touch on in future posts in this series). My husband didn’t always understand my point of view or my fatigue, since he went away every day to the normalcy of his job. And because he had to work, he had a built-in excuse to keep his normal schedule pretty much, so he remained much more rested. Even though he didn’t always understand, it still helped to talk it out. With him, and with the Lord.
Come back tomorrow for more on “What To Do When Long-Term Guests Don’t Help With Meals and Cleanup.”
Oh, and thank you to Raising Homemakers for this wonderful linkup on Homemaking–I’m linked up this week!
Thanks for reading Faith’s Firm Foundation!
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