Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hospitality redefined

When you think of hospitality do you think of women in your church who wear matching shirts or aprons and say hi to people as they enter a women's ministry event?

Perhaps you think of a hospitality table or tent at an event - that place that provides information and assistance on where to go, the things offered, etc.

Or maybe it is simply a word you don't think of. There's a trend pattern I've been noticing in people - especially us married women. (And before I go here, I realize not everyone is this way. I realize some people excel at the things I'm about to talk on.) We seem to forget how much we need friends. We know our kids need friends so we have play dates, and as a result our friends are the parents of our child's friends. Or we acknowledge our need for friends, but do nothing to engage in purposeful time with them. We say hi to them as we pass in the hallways at church, uttering that all too familiar phrase "lets get together soon!". It comes from a sincere place, but frankly it probably won't happen. Because there's soccer (or volleyball, track, football, cheer, dance, puppetry, invisible swimming or any other possible extracurricular we can have our kids in), homework, work, projects on the house, cleaning the house, etc. Or maybe for us younger moms our lives are dominated by feeding schedules, nap times, bed times, squeezing in a bath and teeth brushing (seriously, no one gets both of those done on the same day right?!?! or am I alone?) and then finally settling in with the hubs to share a few moments of silence before we crash into the pillow and start the day again - when do we have time for girls nights or even lunch?

We're busy. I get it. I am too! However, it's time to do something about it.

"Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist."
- Thomas Disch

Maybe that's the key. To see relationships where none exist. For instance, in a week a friend of mine is coming over on a Saturday and is helping me declutter our guest room/office before my inlaws come in town. It's going to be messy and a true insight into the "clean" house she's seen several times before. But she will be a third party ruthless purger and I need that. So I'm letting down my pride and letting my friend in. It'll be quality time spent with, I'm sure, lots of laughter. Cleaning my clutter and working on a friendship - a relationship where none should exist. But it works!

Another friend and I have run errands around town before, kids in tow - mundane, nothing special, an opportunity to get to know this precious friend better and just live life together.

Or perhaps we need to get serious about our homes. We have these homes that we stress over keeping clean, that we decorate just so, that we spend time in - why not show it off? Even if the floor is dirty or the dishes aren't clean. Maybe we just need to invite people over - whether we have tons in common or not. What's the harm in having them once?

This is something Andy and I take pretty serious. That sounds silly - having people over and throwing parties really is serious business for us though. That's ultimately why we have a guest book at our entry way. It's two-fold: 1) it's fun! but 2) it keeps us accountable - if it's been a while since we've had people, or if its the same people that book serves a reminder to get out invite people in more. We've become friends with all sorts of different people in our church this way. We've also connected people who never knew each other and they've become friends too. It's awesome! Just the other night I hosted a girls night in. Nothing fancy - everyone brought an appetizer or dessert and we played board games. We laughed and had fun (and hardly mentioned kids!!), but the coolest part was looking around at the differences in my living room. Some have kids, some don't. Some have grown kids, I have a toddler. I was the youngest - there were women who could be my mom. We shouldn't have fun together if you look only at demographics. But we do! And not just because they're all godly ladies, but because we all have a need for people to give us advice, encourage us, listen to our heart aches, and laugh with over Apples to Apples. And that's what happened!

Rereading this I wonder if this blog is all over the place...or if it sounds like I'm bragging. I'm not trying to. I fail miserably at friendships and creativity within those. I've let good friends fall by the wayside from time to time. But I am passionate about it!

We must get creative. Read the Bible - look at the lives of the disciples and the early church. The coolest thing that sticks out to me? They lived LIFE together. Not just fun exciting things. They faced hardships together. They went to wedding and parties together. They fished (grocery shopped?) together. They read God's word together. They didn't just get together for an organized Bible Study or fun event. They didn't wave at each other or only talk about their kids. They lived life together.

That's what hospitality looks like I think. That's what discipleship, evangelism, ministry, and at the base of it all Christ looks like. The ability to see relationships where none exist. There is no time like the present. We can do it. We as moms of munchkins or empty nesters. We as women, working or stay at home. Carve out time...whether it's 10 minutes dropping off cookies unexpectedly, an hour of pb & j lunches in your messy house, or 5 hour game nights. Let's get intentional. Let's get creative. Let's revolutionize friendships in our busy lives!


Shelby said...

"I fail miserably at friendships and creativity within those."

As someone blessed by your friendship (and lots of creativity within it) for going on four (!) years, I beg to differ.

I don't know your life in Chattanooga (sadness) but I know your heart and you could give lessons on friendship and fun and caring and doing life with someone.

So glad to read that you're getting out there, so to speak, and developing so many new relationships!

Rachel said...

thanks Shelby! 4 years - really? wow!

Christine Rover said...

And, if you are driving by a friend's neighborhood, give them a call and just stop by. Although their first thought may be, 'oh no, my house is messy and not baby proofed', they will welcome an unexpected holiday visit. So, yes, give that friend a call and just stop by to share your lives, even if it is only 30 minutes. You never know what you might 'step into'. A lifelong friendship!

JohnandLynn said...

Up north I had friendships like this, shopping, errands, sometimes spontaneous sometimes planned but we did exactly what you are writing about, we lived our lives together and we still do but with geography. I miss not having that here.....