Thursday, January 2, 2014

How an introvert entertains

If you just love having people over, if it is as easy for you as falling off a log, then skip this blog entry.

My husband and I are both content being quiet. I have more need for socializing than he does, but most days saying hi to the checker at Walmart would satisfy my need for people. However, our entire married lives, we have socialized and even entertained in our home. For introverts, it is important to start with why.

If you would rather be curled up with a good book or cuddle in front of a movie, why bother cleaning the house for company that you won't enjoy?
Our motivation for entertaining is simple: people matter. The real meaning in life will boil down to relationships. Proverbs 14:4 says, "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests." Your house will stay clean and your lives will be comfortable with minimal relationships, but it will lack purpose and fruit.

And so our children's friends are welcome in our home. And we go out of our comfort zone in order to invite friends to share a meal. Here are my tips for entertaining as an introvert.

1) Stretch. When someone says, "Let's get together" or your child says, "Can so-and-so sleep over?", say yes. If your ladies' group or church group needs someone to host a party, say yes. If your goal is to have people in your home, and you're introverted, it's not going to feel instinctive. You have to train yourself to open the door and smile.

2) Go small. Introverts use trappings to make us comfortable: the most fantastic meal, incredible decorations, the best party game, the most people. Leave that game behind, because now you know why you are gathering with people: because people are important. Worry less about cleaning and menus and prepare yourself to engage. If you are tired and empty when the company arrives, you won't make connections--which is the entire reason you are doing this.

3) Stop. Just because you've hosted your small group for two years doesn't mean you have to keep doing it. Just because the sleepover is always at your house doesn't mean it has to be this time. Just because you host a cookie decorating party with your neighbors every December doesn't mean you have to do it this year. Do not be a slave to schedule. God is in charge of your life, not you, and He can make a beautiful connection with work you've already done, or bring back a tradition that you don't have the time for at the moment. Life is always changing; let it change, and look for God's yes, not your own.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." This passage teaches us that as we are hospitable, we should also be amply forgiving, and we should serve God with the gifts and grace He gives, not out of comparison or compulsion, but with His joy.

May God bless your home as you put the oxen of grace and hospitality to work, looking for His harvest in your life and the lives of those around you.