Southern Hospitality


I have now lived in Colorado for over two years. We’ve passed the dating phase and are into full-blown commitment with our western citizenship. My husband and I are preparing to move into our third apartment this coming weekend, and a trip to Nashville couldn’t have been more needed. On Friday night, I walked in to a house full of women that I didn’t know. I can thank my friend Kelsey for the introduction; she recently launched Radiant Magazine, and the weekend served as a retreat for the different columnists from around the country. I will be honest - I tried not to have expectations. My life is very female-driven. I danced during my entire childhood, was the President of my sorority in college, and currently own an all-female business. I know how difficult it can be for groups of women, especially brand new groups, to connect. Thankfully, authenticity wasn’t in short supply.

For 36 hours, we were challenged to dream, be vulnerable, and create something beautiful with a group of strangers. As ethereal as it might sound, this was a group absent of competition and comparison and chock-full of encouragement. As I was prompted to think about the things in my life that I need more of and the distractions I need to eliminate, one common theme continued to plague my writing: relationships over routine.

Every woman in the room was different, but far too many of us voiced a struggle with control and how debilitating it can be when we’re trying to live up to our God-given potential. The things in my life that inspire me and make me feel recharged are always relationship driven, but that’s not usually where I focus my priorities. You see, I’m a big believer in SMART goal setting - goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. So, when I list my responsibilities and deadlines, any goal that is important to me should fit within this framework, but my relationship goals rarely do.

I hide behind the orderliness of routine because chasing after relationships requires a level of vulnerability and commitment that isn’t easy to shove into a quick to-do list. I am too eager to blame my lack of intentional relationships on my circumstances or location, rather than my unwillingness to put the time into relational goal setting. Growing up, I used to resent being “Southern”. I felt that I didn’t align with the fried-chicken and busybody stereotype, and I hated the concept of staying in one place forever. In my adult life, however, I often long for the Southern hospitality and intentionality that I now equate with the culture in Kentucky and Tennessee. Yet, the culture isn’t the only driving force. I find more relational fulfillment in the South because I put more focus into it when I lived there, whereas Colorado has been all about career.

One of my greatest takeaways from our wonderful weekend was that I can’t rely on excuses when the ball is in my court. If I long for the Southern hospitality of my two previous homes, I have all the tools to create the same level of community amidst the Rocky Mountains. After all, I am far more Southern than I ever thought I’d admit. Your list of goals should never leave out the most important ones just because they are the most difficult. Lack of contentment is not situational.

Photo credit: Ashley Glass