March 13, 2013

When Being the Life of the Party Becomes Lonely

"Emma is a really good friend, Mom.   Not only is she sweet, funny and kind, but she also invites me over to her house.  It's not just me having her here all the time."  These words were spoken by my twelve year old daughter just last week.  Her statement couldn't have been more timely.  Over the last few weeks, I have been pondering the same sentiment, albeit a little less from the cup-is-half-full perspective.

My husband and I love to entertain.  We enjoy planning events.  We love people.  One of the main objectives of our farm purchase was to share it with others.  We crave fellowship, whether it be a crowd or a couple.

But sometimes...
~sometimes it gets lonely being the one to invariably invite others into our home
~sometimes rejection stings
~sometimes it would be nice to be invited to do something without being the planner

Life is busy, but sometimes the lack of effort is painful to those we don't even mean to hurt.  I can pretty much be sure that none of our friends are thinking, "let's NOT invite them over."  I think it is more of an oversight, an omission rather than intentional.

Over the last few months we've waffled between "what's wrong with us" to "maybe we'll just stop the invitations and see what happens."  We have some dear friends who have also dealt with this issue amongst their extended family.  They chose a "Year of No," not to retaliate, but to protect their hearts because they felt they were setting themselves up for hurt and disappointment when their efforts were not reciprocated.  In some relationships, that is the boundary line that is necessary for the protection of emotional health.
We aren't to the point of a "year of no", but we feel the sting.

The most difficult pill to swallow is when we begin to see our kids suffer.  My oldest daughter recently said, "Mom, I'm always inviting friends over, but I feel like they never want me to come to their house.  It really hurts."  Yes, baby, it does hurt no matter how old you are.  My response was that our house is a fun place to be and we make people feel welcome, so they want to come.  Which is true, but sometimes it would be nice...

So today I encourage you to seek out those in your life who are the "life of the party."  Might they be feeling lonely?  Are you extending the hand of hospitality?  What about your children?  Are you teaching them the value of hospitality?
You don't have to make it a production.  The size of your home doesn't matter.  Real friends don't mind if there are dust bunnies in the corners.
A thoughtful invitation rejuvenates the soul, warms the heart and builds relationships.

I'm joining Imparting Grace today

19 comments:

Katie said...

O my goodness I have so been where you are! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. We are always the ones hosting family and friends and nerver receive an invite. It is hard and lonely sometimes. Hoping you find some peace in this.

Bobbie said...

I know where you are! It seems like I am the only one who hosts, but I realize some people just do not like to entertain, and/or feel their homes are messy, not nice, not big enought, etc... I think I have the gift of hospitality and others may not.

KR said...

:( This makes me sad. I can't speak for everyone, but I know for myself, I feel like my home is never clean/tidy enough. Now, I KNOW that is 100% selfish, and my friends are not coming to judge my home, or my mess, or my clutter. It is just easy to be intimidated when everyone else seems to have it all together. And I never will. Which is a me-problem, because who says I have to have it all together? The bible says to practice hospitality, not practice hospitality when everything is tidy and you've had your nasty carpet cleaned and you've fixed the doorknobs on the panty and hung a window treatment after 7 years and replanted the shrubs you pulled up 3 years ago. Even worse, it's also hard to WANT to practice hospitality, in spite of the above, but have others in your home who are too ashamed of your home's condition to allow you to invite people over. I know we don't get invited to much because we don't reciprocate for the above reasons....it's a vicious cycle. Come by unannounced and knock. I'll let you in. I want the cycle to break. I do.

KR said...

And, there is nothing wrong with you. That is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

Bugs and Sunshine said...

About a month ago a family of 6 invited us to their home for dinner one evening.

It was the first time in years we've been invited to someone's house for dinner and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

We felt so loved. Each week we have between 30 and 50 people in our home, so we have a very open front door.

It seems like people today don't even ever think about inviting people over. Maybe they are too busy? I don't know.

It blessed us hugely to get an invite for dinner though! It has been years since we've had dinner at someone else's home.

And I guarantee, if we lived closer I'd be inviting you over and cooking you and your family up a huge Mexican feast!

Bugs and Sunshine said...

and p.s...i was a nervous wreck on the way to our friends house because it was such new territory for us!

i was giving the kids all kinds of speeches on the way...no burping at the table, eat what you are given, under no circumstances may you pass any bodily gasses out loud, etc etc etc...HAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Brooke B said...

New follower, and I loved this post! Very well said!

Sandy said...

As soon as you ALL have a free night, we would LOVE to have you over for dinner! It is just hard to figure when that is... But I know exactly how you feel. And not having the "gift of hospitality" is NOT an excuse for any Christian since Scripture says that we ALL are to practice hospitality.

Denise said...

Gretchen - I could have easily written that blog post. I am always the one to call, stop by or have someone over to my house. I am a single mom of 2 grown children and have them both along with 5 of my grandkids one street over from me.

Thanks for sharing that I am not alone in all of this.

Dena said...

Just had this same conversation with my mama the other day. I think it's such a common thing among some of us. And we all need to get over ourselves and open our doors more. You're so sweet to post your heart like this. I'd love to have you guys over, except that I live in the Raleigh area and I think you live in the Charlotte area!!!! :0)

rachelinraleigh.com said...

Hey Gretchen - this is Rachel, Carol's daughter (which, did you know, is a hair product brand sold at ulta... too bad it's not ours). I have really been enjoying your blog, and my mom says you are a fabulous woman. Today's blog post really struck me. I pray you are starting here, with what you know, and just allowing the Lord to teach you Himself through these feelings and these happenstances. As I was thinking through it, and thinking through how the Lord would have us think through all of this, I was making little tweets for my new blog post today. Which, actually, by the sweet providence of the Lord, helped me to think through what you had written. How great is that? That the Lord can use your writings and what He is teaching me to teach something even bigger? Christ's love is where it's - everything everything everything - at. And that's where we live, move, have our being, and hang our hats. Mom said you love Jubala; maybe one day we can meet there and share conversation over cups of coffee :)

rachelinraleigh.com said...

PS Have y'all read the book, Open Heart, Open Home? LOVE IT! taught me so much :)

Bree said...

Yes...we are the hosts as well. Truly understand :) With this, hubby and I have realized the importance of inviting others over who also have the gift of hospitality and might be feeling this way as well. The gift of hospitality is truly a heart's desire to serve others and fellowship. This is a gift from the Lord! Praying you won't be discouraged. He knows your hearts. Our experience..He has so kindly sent an invite for us to an another's home at just the right time. Have a blessed weekend and thank you for sharing your heart.

Anna said...

Like your other readers who have commented, I totally get what you're saying, too. One of the reasons we built our house was to make it a place where our friends and family would want to come to eat and play. And it's worked out that way but I have the same experience as you--I'm always the planner, the inviter. I think most of my friends feel their house isn't clean enough or big enough--but if everyone would just realize that ANY house gets messy when you have people over..the starting point doesn't matter (because really, how many times have we crazily straightened up and cleaned, only to have the house happily wrecked by a party?!).

Tracey said...

Find 3 other couples and set up a dinner / fellowship night. My small group meets twice a month. There are four families..we rotate houses to host the potluck supper then have a 30 minutes Bible study. (when we are all able to attend, there's 24 of us!)

I think the reason so many don't offer to host is because they think the house has to be perfect...they feel intimidated..and quite frankly, it takes effort to have folks over. BUT...it is so worth it!

Btw..you are welcome at my house any time. I'll make coffee, we'll ditch school, and chat.

Patti@OldThingsNew said...

It seems there are quite a few of us who have felt this way from reading your reader's comments. My husband and I bought our home on a lake with the idea of opening it up to entertain others. We even dedicated our house to God for His use. That is exactly what it has become and, like you, it is such a blessing to have people in, to make them comfortable, feed them well, and have them leave happy. Many people have said that our home is a peaceful place to be. Praise God for that.

That said, we too have often wondered why we are rarely invited into the homes of others. I think your readers answered that. People don't really entertain much today for one thing. Many don't know how (thank you mom for being an example of hospitality), others feel like their homes aren't good enough, clean enough, they get nervous trying to entertain . . . the list goes on and on. I guess we need to just be happy that we can give others a place to feel at peace for awhile in the midst of their crazy lives. Fact is, it is getting to the point that I'd almost rather have people over than go out, as my home is really my favorite place to be.

Would love to have you and your family over for a summer BBQ, a ride on the boat and time sitting on the deck with a tall lemonade! Where do you live? :) :) :)

Many blessings to you for giving of yourselves and your home to others. You never know, you may be entertaining angels unawares!
Patti

Kathy Olson said...

I have felt that way many times. Thanks for showing me that I'm not the only one. It does hurt. Your answer to your daughter was just beautiful about your house being the fun place to be. You could have shared your hurt and maybe clouded her feelings, but you chose not to do that. That is beautiful!

Richella Parham said...

This post really made me think--about myself and about others. In a really good way. Thank you so much for linking it to Grace at Home!

The Corbett Family said...

I was reminded of your post the other day. When in Raleigh we were more open to invite people over for play dates, but dinner seemed daunting. We fell in to the web of lies, I don't want to cook for more people, they'll be uncomfortable in our small house, etc.
In our new home which happens to have a little more room we've opened it up to many yet rarely ever receive a return invite until recently. The family of 6 I think scares most because the thought of it being loud and chaotic is probably not worth it. Then our pastor and his wife invited us over the other night, she's newly pregnant with her 3rd child, experiencing morning sickness, teaches 2nd grade, and yet put all that aside to say, "we care about you" by having ALL of us over. They don't have a big house and did anyone care, no. Did it get loud yes, but it was happy laughter and kids were having fun. Chili was served in paper bowls, grilled cheese on paper plates, and there was great conversation. I was more impressed with that than anything else. It doesn't have to be a fancy 4 course meal on your finest dinnerware, it's the warmth of hospitality that meant the most. We drove away saying, "I know that wasn't easy to have all of us over, but that was really fun and we feel special." It was very humbling to me and taught me a lot.
We would love to have you all over here soon. Girl we have cake to sample while the boys and kids check out some trails close by. I just get caught up in thinking, "they won't want to drive here, gas is too expensive." I'll just have to let you make that call not me. :)