Too Wrapped Up in Party Prep
just a little something
to begin your week.
With all that has transpired this past year, my husband and I decided to host a Christmas party to celebrate the season with good friends. I love opening up our home and hosting guests, and this year felt extra special as I recalled last year’s Christmas tainted by my surgery complications.
Leading up to the party, practically every minute was filled with scurrying around the house decorating, cleaning, and baking. And although party preparation feels like a lot of work, I sincerely enjoy it. I could spend hours flipping through Pottery Barn’s magazine searching for new ideas on décor and party planning. I love thinking through how to set the table and pulling out my collection of dishes, many of which have come from my grandmother who passed the hospitality gene down to me. I absolutely adore the company of dear friends in our home.
As much as I love hosting and entertaining, I do have a confession: sometimes I can become so wrapped up in the party planning that the event becomes more about me than about enjoying time spent with friends.
For the past several years God has been teaching me much about finding my significance in Him instead of the approval of others. I will never forget how He specifically taught me this lesson through a dinner party about two and a half years ago. Jared and I hosted our first dinner as newlyweds for close friends, and as a new hostess looking forward to using my newly-acquired cooking tools, I was focused on preparing and serving the perfect dinner.
As you can surmise, with perfection as my goal, the dinner did not transpire like I hoped. The salad was soggy, the eggplant parmesan was bland, and a few more disappointments that I can’t remember now. What I do remember is lying in bed long after the dinner was over replaying my missteps as a novice cook. I was crushed that my dinner fell far below my aspirations, and clearly my sleepless night proved that it affected me far too deeply.
Over the next few months, I spent time journaling and dialoguing with God about this subject. As I expressed my honest feelings to God, I realized that when I felt insecure, I viewed my guests’ opinions of my hosting (and me in general) as a verdict on who I was as a woman. This is an absolute lie because only God can ultimately give me the worth and identity I need to feel secure.
As I’ve become more self-aware and connected to my heart in the past couple of years, I’ve realized that this desire to gain approval may not overtly demand attention, but it subtly masks itself through my thoughts and actions. Underneath it all lies my motives. Why am I doing what I am doing? Specifically in regards to hosting, am I spending hours on my party preparations so that others will like me more? Am I trying to prove something to myself? If everything goes wrong with the event, will it affect my self-confidence or can I brush it off knowing that my worth does not ride on my hostessing skills or others’ opinions?
These thoughts are more at the forefront of my mind these days because I am studying Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study with ladies from my church. Through her pages, Moore encourages us to break free from the things holding us captive, and defines captivity as “anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for [us]” (pg 5). God has been opening my eyes to realize that my craving for people’s approval is keeping me from experiencing the freedom God desires for me.
During last week’s Bible study, we specifically talked about hostessing and how to enjoy the experience instead of hyper-focusing on gaining approval from ourselves or others. We discussed the Bible story in Luke 10, contrasting Martha and Mary’s responses to hosting Jesus at their home. (Jesus said, “Mary has chosen what is better” by spending time with Him instead of Martha being “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” vs 42, 40.)
What a timely conversation for me; I left Bible Study to prepare for the night’s Christmas party with these truths rumbling around in my mind. As I drove home, I prayed that God would help me to be “present” with my guests instead of being “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” I asked Him to fill me up with His peace so that I could overflow to others. And I told Him that most of all I wanted to be satisfied by Him alone rather than seeking approval in hosting the perfect party. Though I have much room for growth, it was a mindful step for me, and I have to say, I enjoyed the party so much more as a result.
My prayer this Christmas is that as we open our homes and spend time with friends and family that we would truly enjoy our guests rather than become too wrapped up in party preparations that we miss the real Reason we are celebrating.