When I think about hospitality and what that really looks like…I typically find myself watching other people to see what they’ve come up with. And on Friday night as Ben and I were sitting in a living room listening to the story of a lady we both know, it was at that moment that I took a mental picture. I take these pictures of moments that I don’t want to forget. Unless it’s really standout, I most often forget if I don’t write it down. Well, here I am, writing it down…it being the story of Trudy & John and The Whatcom Dream.
I’ve heard Trudy’s story a couple times now, but it’s still phenomenal to me. She grew up knowing & using the welfare system. Not thinking much about what future she could have, she bought into the system and became a product of all she knew. There wasn’t a way out until she encountered T.W.D. However, T.W.D. was more than an organization, but it was people who met Trudy & John where they were. T.W.D. teaches financial classes to empower those who are financially destitute to give them a hope, yet not a handout. Trudy would call herself a sassy young woman with the mouth of a sailor (both verbally & what went in).
But, as the members of T.W.D. met her where she was at, she also soon realized that Jesus wanted to meet her where she was at. She and John got married, started serving the Lord, and moved out of Bellingham’s renown poorest/highest crime rate neighborhood into safe suburbia. But (yes there’s always a ‘but’), God told her that she needed to move back to the neighborhood where she came from and be evangitality to meet the people where they were at.
So they packed up their stuff, sold their place, and bought the little pink house which was once a well-known meth house on the Texas block. They were redeeming the evil for the good. Fast forward ahead and Trudy & John still live in that old meth house, except they have been living out true hospitality to their neighbors & neighborhood. They have started a community garden, host bonfires, and simply go out through their neighborhood to know the people who live there. People flock to John & Trudy. And I think it’s because they emanate a pure goodness.
What struck me on Friday night was something new as Trudy spoke. She & John are shining lights in their neighborhood and I know they genuinely love their neighbors. Their authenticity is what makes them so attractive. But what got me was this…I shouldn’t feel guilty that I’m not living in the “ghetto” doing hard core hospitality. However, I began to ask God, “what would you have us do and where?” You see, when you hear stories like Trudy’s you cannot help, but want to pack up all your stuff and give it away for the less fortunate. Yet, I don’t think that’s necessarily the answer all the time (sometimes yes, most the time…no). Do I have the answer for myself and my family? No.
But, what I do know, at this very moment is this. I truly believe that wherever I find myself, in whatever circumstance, I need to seek out contentment. When I think about Ben and my dream to own a house suitable for hospitality I can get discouraged. However, when I think about what we are blessed with…the size really doesn’t matter. Isn’t it more about making due with what you have? And when I recall my formative years, it’s not about the size, style, or aesthetic quality of the house which gave me hospitality. No, it was the about the size of the heart, the style in grace and the attention to detail that the person gave me (as a person worthy of dignity), which brought me hospitality. It didn’t even matter how immaculate their house was, but how they preserved me as a person.
And that’s what spoke to me the most on Friday night. Trudy is speaking worth into these people’s lives. She is doing opposite of what the money changers were doing in the temple 2000+ years ago when Jesus turned over their tables. She is viewing each person as God’s Palace Temple and that’s not anything to be taken lightly.
But where do I find my place to extend hospitality these days? Honestly, (and I hope this isn’t a cop out) I think a vast majority comes in the form of mothering. How do I treat my children as God’s Palace Temple on an hourly basis? Although most of my time is dedicated to this life-long journey of mothering at the moment, I am constantly seeking where else I can meet people where they are at to reassure them that they too are God’s Palace Temple, which I think is the very core of genuine hospitality.