It made its home in our apartment months before I did since my husband lived there with a roommate the semester before we got married. The center piece of his roommate’s bedroom was a tattered once-beige recliner. Its suede fabric had been rubbed raw on the seat and arms, and the handle to recline had been broken off, making it nearly impossible to open or close the footrest.
It was much to my chagrin then, when my husband carried me over the threshold into what was now our apartment, I found the remnants of his roommate’s furniture, namely, the hideous recliner. Evidently, he didn’t need furniture where he was moving next, so he left it to us as a “gift.” My husband sat down in the recliner, claimed it as the most comfortable chair in the world, and begged that we keep it. Knowing that we couldn’t afford a new living room set, I decided it could stay if I could get a slipcover to cover its threadbare appearance. He agreed, and I covered the recliner with an ill-fitting blue slipcover I purchased with Target gift cards from our wedding. My husband was happy, and I was already dreaming of the day we had enough money to afford new living room furniture.
That would continue to be my husband’s favorite place to sit in our home for the first five years of our marriage. It became known as his “exciting chair” after he had his wisdom teeth removed, and the anesthesia caused him to wax poetic about how much he loved to sit in his “exciting chair.”
When we purchased our first home and planned for the move, we sold most of the second-hand furniture that filled our newlywed apartment. While I am usually nostalgic about giving up possessions, I was most excited about replacing our shabby living room furniture. We basically had to pay someone to take the recliner from us, but it was gone, and into our new home moved a beautiful taupe sectional sofa. We now had the space and the resources for me to express my creative juices through decorating our new home—without a slipcovered and broken recliner.
A year after we moved in, we held a garage sale to help fund our domestic adoption process with friends and family donating items for us to sell. Almost everything sold, but we were left with a few large items that crowded our garage. One of which was a large, plush chair that swiveled and rocked. My husband took to it immediately, despite its dingy and dated yellow pattern. He suggested that we move it inside to the living room instead of it taking up room in our garage. I agreed but posted it on Facebook Marketplace immediately so that it wouldn’t clash with my carefully curated living room décor too long (but I never received one inquiry).
But here we are a year later, and that yellow chair still sits in the middle of my living room. I’ve researched reupholstery, slipcovers, and new chairs. Each time I’ve mentioned an option to my husband, he says it’s “too expensive” and that we should just keep this chair. Again, he has built a connection with a chair I would have never chosen for my home.
As I came to the end of hours of research on upholstery and chairs, I realized it wasn’t about the money; my husband felt comfortable in that chair. Its mismatched appearance and wobbly swivel made it seem like a place of refuge, not an eyesore for him. It’s the first place he sits when he gets home, as our daughter climbs into his lap and asks to go “wee” (spin around). As I considered the purpose of the furniture in my home, I would have said my desire for beauty and comfort was to show hospitality to my guests. But what about hospitality to my family?
I began to see that hideous golden chair as a way to show hospitality to my husband. Was it the most attractive chair? No, but it made him feel at home every day after work. Would it make my living room fit for the pages of Magnolia Journal? No, but my husband’s comfort is more important than Joanna Gaines’ approval. As a daughter of God, my aim shouldn’t be the perfectly designed home, but to “seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13).
In Luke 14, Jesus teaches about how we are to show true hospitality to others. He condemned those who held these elaborate feasts to exalt themselves rather than to serve others. It was not an act of love but an act of pride that led them to invite people into their homes. Christian hospitality is not about making ourselves look good but to humble ourselves and serve the needs of those around us. Jesus reminds us that, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
My God-given role to make my home a hospitable place for my family and guests is not based on the position of throw pillows and the perfect table centerpiece. The most well-decorated home will never be hospitable if people never feel comfortable on its designer couch. I want my home not to be a show of my creativity, but an expression of my love and care.
True hospitality takes humility. It’s being willing to put aside our appearance and needs for the sake of others. I’m not trying to impress a designer; I am trying to serve those I welcome in my home—first and foremost my husband and children. Paul commands us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). As I seek to make my home more hospitable, I have to put aside my own ideas of beauty and comfort for the sake of others.
I’ve stopped researching sales on slipcovers and deleted bookmarked webpages of chairs. Even if I found a great deal on the perfect chair, it wouldn’t be right for our home. My husband continues to sit comfortably in his favorite quirky chair, and I’ll just wait for its yellow pattern to come back into style.