I am in Arizona. I had plans of what my time here would look like. Trips to see old high school friends swirled in my head. Inviting people over after my girls were asleep to do some cooking classes (this last one has never been vocalized till now). I have had the want to cram as much in as humanly possible.
Much of this stems from the belief,
"the bigger hospitality is being socially inviting, reaching out to as many people as I can, in order to bring love to this world."
I know I'm not the only one who thinks this--right?!
Fortunately, my hospitality this summer looked more in the form of building and re-building relationships within my family of origin.
Before I dropped Ben off at the airport in June to head back to work in Bellingham, he said,
"I'm glad you get to be here this summer. I think your being here will be a positive for your family."
"Why?," I asked him.
"Well, because it's something different for your family. And (pause), because you're a pot stirrer," he added.
I didn't know whether to thank him for his vote of confidence or just stare absentmindedly about the phrase, "pot stirrer." In my first week here, I was confronted by the story in the Bible of Joseph where it says he was given favor with both God and man. How it would be through him his family would be saved. Then, I looked further into Esther where her uncle Mordecai said in regards to her being a Jewish Queen in a very non-Jewish country, "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"
We have no idea what implications are being prepared and made through our little obedience. Doing the simple work of raising children and showing them the hospitable love of God is not done in vain. To drive over 1600 miles to what I thought would be a time to spend with friends, and have it "easy" in terms of relational strife with family is not what God had in mind.
I do not need to travel to Haiti or Africa or any other third world country to see the very real third world emotional and spiritual poverty striking my little sphere in Bellingham, Washington to Tempe, Arizona. God has given me one family to love well. That is my charge. I know he brought me to Arizona this summer to love my side of the family well. It wasn't quite what I had in mind; but, it is exactly what he had in mind.
It's not romantic and dreamy. It's a sloppy, messy, hard work hospitality. It doesn't stop asking of me to love. Hospitality is not beautiful centerpieces, and connecting with only the people who we get along with. No, Jesus loudly shouts "NO!" He came to save the least, the lost, the broken, and that's my charge to follow in his footsteps.
Friends, the holy work is not out there where someone posts a pithy update to their current state of affairs. The holy work is done off the computer, off the social networks and right in your kitchen, your cubicle, your taking time to show gentle discipline, your needing to speak hard, compassionate truth to a family member.
This is where it's done.
I refuse to be the hospitality blogger who gives you Five Steps to Hospitality Freedom; because, how can I reduce this great command to love in the flesh to this?
I guess this is a rally cry for me. If you've been here long enough, you know this part of my heart and for that I'm thankful. If you're new, then please know there are some great bloggers and writers out there who will guide you with tips to welcoming people in your home or to entertain. I write out of the mess, out of the conversations most people want to avoid. I write about home life with my family. I wrestle with the theological implications of eating food the way it was intended in the garden to knowing we live in a very broken world.
And so, if you're feeling discouraged today, because you don't feel you measure up with hospitality...know this. You keep inviting people to share their story with you and you sharing yours with them. Keep listening to others stories and meeting them where they are at. Be encouraged that the best, most powerful hospitality is right where you find yourself.
Keep strong! I would love to hear how you are doing with loving well/being hospitable where you are currently finding yourself. How can I pray for you as you continue?