Is our home the only place we are to be hospitable? Maybe the church too? Beyond that is there any need to be welcoming?
Webster’s definition of “hospitable” is a: given to generous and cordial reception of guests b: promising or suggesting generous and friendly welcome c: offering a pleasant or sustaining environment. None of that sounds to me like it is resigned to one or two locations. It sounds much more like a way of life to me.
How do we live hospitable lives? This is a question I am constantly asking myself. How can I be ready at all times to welcome guests, to be generous, pleasant, and friendly? I don’t claim to have all the answers here but I think the Lord is working in my heart to this end.
I notice it is increasingly difficult to have this perspective as a young mom. I am always looking around for a toddler and a preschooler who run here and there and everywhere. Without consciously thinking about it I would seldom look up from that reality to see those around me let alone welcome them.
And yet, in my heart, amidst the chaos, I can still feel tremendously lonely. I need others to welcome me. I need to welcome others.
How Does It Look to Live a Welcoming Life?
Two years ago, as a mom of a toddler, I pulled my very pregnant body out of the car and started unloading my daughter. The two years since she was born had been a wonderful time of embracing motherhood, getting to know her, and spending a lot of time without adult interaction. My husband had worked two full-time jobs for most of that time. He was only just beginning a new position. I had very few friends close by and was struggling tremendously with lack of community.
To me it seemed today was like every other day until I reached into the car to grab my daughter and heard a woman’s voice say “It looks like we are in a very similar situation!” I glanced up, expecting her to be talking to someone else. A woman stood on the sidewalk outside my house pushing a play car with a little girl in it, she too was very pregnant, and was talking to me!
“I guess we are!” I stepped onto the sidewalk and our daughters became fast friends. I have spent a lot of time admiring my daughter for how quickly she makes friends of everyone. I was similar to her at one time too but life had since clouded out my vision and made it hard to see the people behind the faces.
This woman on the sidewalk asked simple questions and we discovered our girls were only 9 days apart and we were both quickly approaching our due dates. When I mentioned the church I attended she excitedly asked, “What church is that?” I told her that my husband pastored Calvary Baptist Church. She said her husband was the assistant pastor at another local Baptist church.
I met a sweet friend that day on the sidewalk. She ended up finding my husband’s email address through the church website and pretty soon had offered to make meals when our son was born soon after.
Within a few weeks I was sitting in her living room, chatting about life, caring for newborns together, and watching our girls play.
Turns out our sons were born 9 days apart too and her house was only two doors down from mine.
It brings tears to my eyes now as I write to think of how many times I stood in my upstairs apartment, praying that God would send me friends because I was so lonely, only to have a friend whose house I could see from my window praying the same thing.
If I had reached out to my neighbors (perhaps with some of these ideas), as I often felt convicted to do, I wouldn’t have endured that difficulty. Now we refer to each other as our “life twins”. At this point she lives an hour away. She is still actively doing a beautiful ministry with her husband and I’m still so thankful for her friendship.
She was welcoming to me on the sidewalk when she had no reason to think anything would come of it that could bless her. She was friendly and generous with her kindness. I am forever grateful and have learned an important lesson. Hospitality is not only for dinner guests in our homes. Hospitality is a welcoming way of life.
What are your stories of welcoming? Do they only happen in the home? I’d love to hear!