You know that phrase from Jesus where he said, (and I paraphrase) “When you gave clothes to the naked, when you visited the prisoner in jail, when you gave food and drink to the needy, when you visited the sick and needy…you were doing it to ME!” When I think of what this looks like in my life, it makes me wonder a bit. First, because I don’t have much time to do much outside of taking care of my two young girls and tending to family life. Second, it’s so easy to get caught up in an idea and envision what you’ll do; rather, than actually follow through with a plan, because life happens, it’s complex.
But even though life is full of complexties, I still am not, nor cannot be satisfied with either number one or two standing as an excuse to not love through tangible means. It’s not part of my design. I think it goes back to who God designed me to be and what does that mean. What does that practically look like in my current situation? Do I put certain things on hold? What are non-negotiables, regardless of station in life? How do I dance in the rhythm of God’s grace while teaching others the dance?
I think this is where hospitality can come in for me. And as I’ve realized more and more over the years that this notion is far reaching and more all-encompassing than we let it be most the time. It’s beyond the food. It’s beyond an immaculate house. It’s beyond a perfect picture family. It’s beyond answering the “right” way. In my small part of the world, at this moment in time, it means walking alongside someone and making them feel more dignified upon leaving. It’s like Jesus said, “it’s giving the very thing that the person you encounter the thing they need most at that moment (paraphrase again).”
So for some it may be a cooked meal (family with a new baby), for another it could mean watching their kids (single mom in desperate need to get some personal time), while for another it’s simply looking at them in the eye and acknowledging their presence (the beggar on the side of the street). I do think hospitality can include food, because food really does bring people together, but if I simply serve food without love–it’s a lost cause. In fact, this reminds me of a time when friends came over many years ago and there I was bustling about serving our guests and ensuring their needs (more like their bellies) were tended. By the end of the evening, while I was thinking I had been a great hostess, one friend said something to me that pierced my heart and forever made me question the true meaning of hospitality. He said, “Kamille, thanks for the food. Ben, thanks for your hospitality!” Ouch!
What? I prided myself in hospitality. I WAS hospitality. I mean, when people thought of me they think hospitality–right?! Well, not that night and possibly not many nights before that. I started to ask myself why he said that to us. And it dawned on me that I wasn’t being hospitable. What I was doing was more like being a waitress, but I wasn’t stopping to inquire and draw out our guests. However, Ben was doing just that. So at the end of that night began my journey in this very expansive word hospitality.
So, how is it played out at this point in my life? Well, I’m still searching for some more tangible ways, but I do know this. I have been given a great task & call on my life to parent two girls. And I know those two girls have been welcomed into our home, so I ask myself this, “how do I show them the hospitality of Christ in the ordinary goings of life (potty-training, nursing, playing, conversing, etc)?” I’m not 100% sure, but I do know this, I’m trying to move to the rhythm of God’s dance and I think that’s a great place to start.