We want our lives to be ones of influence and impact, yet often it seems like we should be doing something else, or going somewhere else. What if I said, “Our lives can have significant influence and impact right where we are, right now– where we live, walk, study, text, or work?” You might think, “Of course it can, if I live radically enough, unleash my dreams and gifting, or live my life altogether, completely different. Yet, who has time for that? Maybe in the future.” I think our life right now in the midst of busyness, unmet and broken dreams and in a messy world, can engage others naturally and compellingly with the love of God– as we live, work and play.
I think our life is best lived right where God has placed us and as we are giving it away— even if we are a full-time student, work full-time, are a full-time Christian worker, or are someone “living on mission” here or over there. Our greatest impact comes when our lives are oriented around a purpose that is worth living for and worth giving away, as we live our everyday, ordinary lives. There is a simple thing, which opens a door for opportunity, and that is hospitality. Let me explain….
What do you think of when you hear the word, “hospitality?” Possibly, what come to mind are words like: unattainable, in the future, “Pinterest,” unrealistic, gourmet meals, or an immaculate or large house. Maybe this word, “hospitality,” seems outdated and old fashion to you. You ask, “Isn’t that something done by older ladies at church?”
Building bridges and Opening windows
Before you decide this is not for you, stick with me. The kind of hospitality I am thinking of may be much different from what normally comes to mind. It is for ordinary people like me. It is a way of living our ordinary, everyday life for the extraordinary. It puts others at ease- and builds bridges with those who God places in our lives. Hospitality has the potential to open a window to people’s heart. Isn’t that what we want– to live in such a way that builds bridges and opens windows?
In light of this, I decided to start a new category on hospitality while keeping the following question in mind: “How can I live my ordinary, everyday life for the extraordinary?” Often “simple” and “hospitality” are not used in the same sentence and are not connected in our mind. With complicated lives and in a world of such busyness we need “simple.” Therefore, I wasn’t sure whether to call this category, “Simple Hospitality,” “Simply Hospitality,” “Real Simple Hospitality,” or “Simplicity in Hospitably.” You get the picture.
Here is the background and thinking on this. Often, people will say to me, “You must have the ’gift‘ of hospitality.” Or, “You are such a great hostess.” I laugh and say, “I am not so sure about that.” (Maybe, they say those things because I do often have college students in my home.) Depending on my mood, I might also say, “Thanks. That is really kind of you.” I started to wonder why people said such things. I will be honest, I am not the one to hurry and make a meal, and start a meal calendar when someone is going through a tough time, or is sick. Some naturally serve in this way. One friend would make meals for her friends when their husbands were out of town. I just don’t think like that. I personally think, “Yay, Chik-fi-la!” when Brian is gone. So, I am not that person who makes meals for everyone. I am glad to get a meal on the table and have my family sit down together to eat!
I have some friends who have ample room in their home and a spare bedroom to host guests. Our bedrooms are small and barely fit our four boys. Their rooms tend to be piled with clothes and full of smells that I would rather close off from the rest of the world. Two of them have surpassed me in height and another will soon, so that area of the house seems to be shrinking in size. Anyway, I don’t have a bed and breakfast.
I also am not very “pinteresting” (as my husband calls those things on that site). Ok, I just recently got an account, but I haven’t done much with it besides post my own stuff! I don’t scour the internet or Pinterest for ideas. I spend my time frivolously in other ways, but not on Pinterest.
My idea of “hospitality” has been shaped by what others do. If I did everything everyone else “seemed” to do, I would have to wait because I would need a larger house with a guest bedroom, to learn be a great cook and to log hours for creative, cute ideas. Then I could be hospitable!
Because of all of this, I laughed when people told me I had “this gift.” I now think of hospitality as available for everyone and possibly, the hidden key for ordinary people like me to build bridges, open windows and unlock doors of people’s lives. It is a way of naturally sharing our lives and the faith we have with others– whether we are married or single, a college student or mom, live in an apartment or house. “What if I don’t like to cook? Or, what if my home is small, my time is limited and I don’t have a creative bone in my body?” Hospitality is caring for another, and making them feel welcome in the space you have created, during the time God has given you, whether that be in a home, at a table at a coffee shop, or in line at the store. The space we live, work, shop, study, or play in is that space– the space for hospitality.
Are you ever paralyzed by the news as we are inundated by the needs from around the world? Where do we start? Whether we are directly involved in helping meet these needs or not, we do need encouragement in just everyday life, to take advantage of where we are, overflowing Christ in simple tangible ways. Hospitality is often just that, demonstrating an extraordinary purpose in life in simple, natural, everyday ways that overflows glimpses of God to those God places in our life. It credits others with the value that God has given them and shares our life with them in such a way that God feels real, and attractive to them. We serve in love to share in love.
Sounds good, but how?
I could go on and on about the value and importance of hospitality. I could speak of the countless opportunities God places in our path– everyday ways. It may seem like these things are so minuscule and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but we are often just planting seeds. And some seeds are bound to take root and grow. I hope to share simple ideas for overflowing naturally our faith in my “Simple hospitality” category.
I made a new friend through a college student who was in my bible study after a church service. My new friend had only been in the US for six weeks. She had never been to a church building, did not know anyone in the past who was a Christian, and had not been into an American home. It was at an extremely busy time of year, but I willed myself to say, “Will you come for dinner on Saturday night?” She was a “stranger” that I could welcome into my home. Everyday I live in my American home, and yet there are strangers all around me who will never enter one. She said, “Yes,” and came.
She was from a country that has been despised by Americans at times. In her country, women are oppressed and lives are controlled by fear. It is a place where you wonder who you can trust. She came into our home and shared a simple meal with us. I knew I had a new life-long friend, even though 20 years separated us. We visited, and each shared about our cultures. I wanted my life to “shine,” and be “salty.” I wanted our time to give her encouragement, and to not be the last. I wanted her to see Christ. I don’t remember all the details of what we talked about; I just remember it was comfortable for all of us. And then, she asked a profound question.
My Chinese neighbors had asked me a similar question, actually. The question was unexpected. What would I say? You might be thinking that she asked about my religion, my political views or government policy. But this is what she asked, “Does your husband always do the dishes?” She observed something she was not use to seeing, and liked it. It was her way of saying, “Something is different here. This husband is different, and I want to know why.” You never know how ordinary things can expose the extraordinary. One day she would really know and understand fully why my husband serves me in this way. He hasn’t always chosen to live this way. Our everyday lives can build bridges and open windows to the lives and hearts of those God places in our life. This is hospitality.
Look for more posts later for sharing our ordinary lives naturally.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
Take time to think:
Where do you spend most of your time?
Ask God to help you be aware of the need right in front of you.
Who comes to mind, who you could initiate coffee with, ask over for dinner, or just visit with during a break?