HospitalityIt's funny how God reaches us, isn't it? This morning I was reading through some scripture on hospitality. The gift used to be peculiar to me; I didn't really appreciate how welcoming someone into your home could be considered a spiritual gift. Since my hubs is always looking for a reason to smoke meat and our dining room table is the Imana Kids HQ, we often have a few extra cars in the driveway or a guest sleeping over. We dig it. We're totally hospitable, all six of us.
A good host has fresh towels out, ice tea chilled and kiddos that keep their clothes on while company is present, right? Wrong. This is not the same as hospitality. This is entertaining. If my desire is to practice hospitality in the biblical sense, it's not about how clean my bathroom is or whether the boys smell or not. It's about serving His children. All of them. The ones that are easy to love and the ones that press our buttons. We want to welcome others into our space because that's how God loves others. He meets them where they're at and welcomes them in.
Paul wrote a lot about others hosting him. In one chapter alone, he references a girl named Lydia, a girl who tells fortunes and a prison guard, all of whom he goes on to dine and stay with after becoming baptized (Acts 16). Strangers became family, just like that.
Being at HomeWhat makes a house a home? I think about how it feels whenever I go to my friend Nicole's house. She's got lots of kids too and part of the reason I feel comfortable is that I know she gets what it's like to herd cats. There's always a low level of chaos and that's okay. In her space, I feel loved, safe and wanted. I can't recall if she has fresh bath soap or whether there are dishes in her sink. I know that when I'm there, I can let out a sigh of relief. I'm safe and I'm loved there.
The Greek word hospitality is philoxenia, which means 'love of strangers'. I know that Paul talked about showing hospitality to the poor and the brokenhearted, the tax collectors and prostitutes. But I'm just gonna say it. There are still many days when I look at my son, whom I know with all my being is my son, and he is so far away and distant and removed. A stranger to me even though it brings me to tears to admit it. I need to love that stranger better. I need to show that stranger whatever I can to so that he can exhale that he is home.
SO. So just when I think I can't bend any further, God throws me this. How do I better make my baby boy feel that his family is his home? What can I do so that he can rest well and have peace in our presence? There are tangible solutions: empty his room of everything other than a bed, restart our rigid after school routine, eliminate activities. But I also know that I need to check my own heart. I gotta let go even more. Part of being hospitable in a biblical sense is meeting the needs of those around you. We go in these phases where we think we can jump back in to the rest of the world, doing the American run-around-be-too-busy drama. What my son really needs is less of that and more of us.
Over and over again. And repeat.
My kid also needs the kind of mercy and grace that I show my guests. Instead of raising my voice as he (deliberately) defies me once again, I gotta press on with the kind mommy voice. You know the one; the after the first-cup-of-coffee voice. And keep that mommy voice going over and over and over again NOT EXPECTING to be reciprocated, however hard it may be. Because I know in my heart of hearts that at the end of the day, if I am continuing to correct and discipline and correct and discipline my E, he's going to feel defeated and unaccepted, and ultimately, unloved. Yuck. I hate to let that settle.
I don't know why it's harder for me to feed the poor and show mercy to the brokenhearted then it is to show patience to my son. But it is. I gave up a long time ago into whatever I thought "normal" looked like. Yet there is still this part of me that wants to change things I can't change; and that's the part of me holding my son back. Come, Jesus, please come. I want with all my being for my E to feel at home. I want him to be able to climb onto my lap and fall asleep feeling safe and wanted and loved. Home.
|Tryin' for a snuggle|