Choose Hospitality

The difference between entertainment and hospitality is more important than you think.

On November 6, 2010, I tweeted the most regrettable tweet of my mediocre social media career. In anticipation of the holiday season, I decided to weigh in on hospitality. The tweet was a flawless blend of selective memory and self-righteousness, designed to heap condemnation on the heads of my followers under the guise of offering wise counsel. It was a verbal "selfie" snapped from my best angle, positioned to make me look very, very good. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Note the double-whammy: if your house isn't orderly on a daily basis, you will withhold hospitality from others and set a bad example for your children. Moms everywhere, be encouraged!

Three years later, I still cringe remembering that tweet, mainly because I have failed to live up to it repeatedly ever since. I presume my house was clean on November 6, 2010, but it has rarely been so in recent months. Even as I type, I'm looking out across a disordered landscape of scattered laundry, schoolbooks, dusty baseboards, and chipped paint. That tweet neglected to mention what my house looked like when my children were small: how I would hide clutter in the dryer when guests came and how hard I found it just to get dinner on the table for my own family, much less for someone else's. So I regret that I proposed to moms a standard to which I could not hold myself.

But more importantly, I regret that tweet because I have come to recognize that the standard it proposed is flawed. It revealed my own lack of understanding about the nature and purpose of hospitality. In my self-righteous desire to offer advice, I confused "hospitality" with its evil twin: "entertaining." The two ideas could not be more different.

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