An Introvert’s Guide to Hospitality

An Introvert’s Guide to Hospitality

If anyone is feeling bored and spontaneous, feel free to join us at the park this morning! We’ll be there from about 10 to 12:00. Text if you’re coming – or just show up! J

An hour into the playdate, none of our friends had shown up. I wasn’t entirely surprised. It was, after all, the last week of summer. Most people were probably busy getting ready for school.

The kids, however, were devastated. Desperate for playmates, they begged to try another park. So we jumped into the station wagon, drove twenty minutes to the playground next to our favorite library, and bolted for the swings.

And then, my phone vibrated.

We just got here. Where are you?

A flurry of text messages followed. It was the mom of a classmate my daughter didn’t know very well. They’d had a busy morning, she explained, so she hadn’t had a chance to get back to me. But they were waiting for us at the park, now.

And it was almost noon.


What if…?

A feeling of dread welled up inside me. I thought of my house, of the messes we’d left behind. The unswept crumbs under the table. The mountain of dishes in the sink. The homemade piñata drying in the screen room.

In my mind, a familiar voice whispered: You can’t do this.

A spontaneous park playdate was one thing; I’d been feeling adventurous, this morning. But now, what I wanted was to go home, boil some hotdogs, and enjoy a low-key afternoon of books and puzzles with the kids. I started to text an apology, with a sincere promise to try again sometime soon. But just as I began to type this message, I felt another nudge from that persistent “what if…?

I erased the message.

Taking a deep breath, I did the unthinkable.

Why don’t we meet back at our house? We can have lunch together, and the girls can play for a while. Would that work for you?

And then, taking another deep breath, I hit send.

# # #

Let me be honest. Hospitality used to scare me.

It’s the sort of thing I’ve always wanted to be good at—and thought that I wasn’t.

For too long, I believed that hospitality required a certain type of personality. Hospitality was coffee and homemade scones in a clean, cozy living room, with no toys or laundry in sight. Hospitality was for extroverts, for people with contagious smiles and an endless supply of fresh baked cookies.

And, yes—that’s one picture of hospitality.

But thankfully, it’s not the only picture.

If there’s one I’ve learned as a mom, it’s that anyone can offer hospitality. Even a socially awkward introvert like me. Because hospitality, at its core, is simply the act of caring for another person in a tangible way.

It doesn’t have to be picture perfect. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t even have to be planned.

That day in August, hospitality was hotdogs, chopped veggies, and grapes in the screen room. It was a garden hose, an inflatable pool, and a borrowed swimsuit. It was three hours of rich conversation with an acquaintance, with whom I now have a connection.

It was way out of my comfort zone.

But it was so worth it.

Because this is how friendship starts.

It starts with risk. With being ourselves.

So instead of worrying about who you’re not, bless others with who you are.

Instead of focusing on what you lack, offer what you have.

Because you have more than you realize. So much more.

And you, friend—you don’t have to be anyone else.

You are enough.

Jennifer Gilmartin

Jennifer is a freelance writer and musician living in Pennsylvania. Once an aspiring Latin teacher, she is now a stay-at-home mama of two children, and is blessed with a husband who can fix just about anything she breaks. Jennifer leads Jr. High Sunday School with her mom and loves attending musicals, giving homemade gifts, and sharing tea with good friends on the back porch.

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