Hospitality. Sure, I'd heard that verse "Practice hospitality." But I really never gave it much thought, because it simply didn't matter to me.
Or at least that's what I thought.
Read on to find out what changed my mind about Christian Hospitality...
What Changed My Mind About Christian Hospitality
I'm an introvert. INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs. I'm perfectly fine within my small circle, thank you very much. Or at least that's what I always told myself when I skimmed over the verses about hospitality.
To be fair, I really didn't understand hospitality at all. I'm not sure why, but I had the impression that hospitality had more to do with keeping an impeccable house and planning fancy, expensive meals.
I was really wrong. And I found out the hard way.
I had my little group of friends that I loved and spent time with. I was friendly at church and volunteered quite a bit. I thought a lot about my own needs, and those of my family.
But God wanted me to learn something else, and He went about it in a strange way (or at least I thought so).
Within a year's time, my circle of friends moved. All of them. The closest friend was nearly an hour away, and the others moved completely out of the state! It had taken me years to find those friends, and just like that, they were gone.
We had no family where we lived. Our church was great, but people are so busy, and, well, everyone already had enough friends. I got lonely.
Even an introvert needs friends. Large groups leave me exhausted, but I still need real connections with other women of faith. I had no idea what God was doing, but I used that season of loneliness to spend time with the One who knows me best.
At the end of that crazy year, God moved our family too. 1,000 miles. My husband took a job on staff at a church (he's support, not a pastor), and we moved to my home town.
Now, you're probably expecting what I was: moving home will solve everything. Problem solved, right?
Beginner Level Changes
It was great to have family again. But I already knew that ALL but one of my childhood friends had moved away. And because of our job situation, we were not going to the church I had grown up in.
It felt as though we had started over from scratch, somewhere completely new!
The church we found ourselves in was nice. But everyone was busy. Very busy. We tried to connect, but people are like electrical outlets. If the outlet is full, you're just not plugging into it.
After two years, we were still lonely. (We were so blessed to have my parents, but you know, they have to love you, right? lol). We were faithful at church, but somehow we never could connect.
Right around then God started whispering to me about Hospitality. He had allowed me to feel lonely and disconnected, so that when I saw those things in others, I would recognize them.
My husband and I talked about it. We very much decided that we couldn't change anyone else, but we could be the change we wanted to see.
Since I practically lived in the nursing mommy's room at church, I decided that I was not going to let another mom walk through there feeling like a transplant. I was going to make people feel at home.
And do you know what? I had a great time. Moms came and went, but I did my best to make them feel welcome, to connect with them, and get to know them.
For most of them, that was all they wanted: the surface connection. The smiling face and listening ear. They were happy with the social media level friendship.
Time to Level Up...
One Sunday morning, when I assumed I had this whole making-someone-feel-at-home thing under control, God decided I was ready to level up.
A new mom came in. Her firstborn son was about the same age as my fourth child. We had a great time connecting, and I learned she had just moved from the other side of the country.
Right about then the sermon ended. People were leaving in droves, but I felt God whisper to me that I should give this young mother my phone number, and that I should invite her into my home.
Now, for one moment I almost asked the God of all the universe if He was quite sure He had thought this through. I heard that host of excuses come crashing towards me like waves: She could be crazy! She could be mean! She'll probably blow me off because she's just as busy as everyone else! Introverts don't pass out their phone number, Lord!
But for once in my life I focused on that Whisper in my heart, instead of my own thoughts. Every argument was drowned out the moment I turned to do as I was told. I gave this young mother my phone number and repeated at least three times that she was welcome to call me, and that I truly meant it.
What Came of It...
That young mom did call me. She's not crazy (at least not any crazier than I am). In fact she is one of the most giving people I have ever met. Her friendship is a real treasure, something I can actually take forward into eternity with me.
God also has a sense of humor. Turns out our babies were born on the exact same day. One on the west coast, and one on the east. Isn't that funny?
And you know what God did? Not only did He give both of us a sister/friend, but He led our families to a small church. And if I had to pick one word to describe this particular church it would be: Hospitality.
A Little Greek Goes a Long Way...
But wait! Let's take a minute to see what God's Word actually has to say about Hospitality! I'm not a Greek scholar, but I am the kind of girl who has a hard-copy of Strong's Concordance on my shelf. So far, I have found a handful of terms in the New Testament that we translate into the modern "hospitality" or "hospitable."
That's a mouthful, isn't it? When I read the Scriptures above and consider the Greek definitions, this is what I think God has to say about hospitality:
First Steps to Christian Hospitality
To be honest, it wasn't easy to share this post (I mean who really wants to broadcast their flaws, right?). But I felt that it was important! Maybe, just maybe, this can help jump-start your journey towards Hospitality, without you having to go through such a crazy season of life!
Here's my tips for Getting Started!
What About You?
Have you ever given much thought to Hospitality? Has giving or receiving it ever changed your life?
Copyright 2016 by Anna Travis. All rights reserved.
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