I was driving through my neighborhood studying the homes of my neighbors the other day. I do this a lot, no big deal. It occurred to me that I’ve never been inside so many of the houses, and probably never will. Let me tell you, I live in one of the most outgoing, social, generous, extroverted neighborhoods I have ever seen in my life. (Those poor, serious introverts who move in here and just want to be left alone…they have no idea what they’re getting into.)
Looking at all the various colors on the houses, I began to wonder: What is it in our present society that causes us to drive into our garages, shut the door, and retreat? This doesn’t just apply to the neighbors who live next door, or even down the street, what about our surrounding community in general? Why don’t we welcome people into our homes, the very physical representations of our hearts, anymore? Is it because we are overbooked? Exhausted? Kids all over the place? The interruption of our routine? Worried about the things we don’t possess? Have Pinterest and HGTV gotten the better of us? Are our houses really that filthy?
It seems like hospitality has become a lost art in our culture. Before we moved to our current neighborhood, I am ashamed to admit that we could not even remember our neighbors’ names. We would meet them once, wave hello in passing, and quickly forget. Knowing that this, and our lack of concern, was sinful on all counts, when we moved into our latest home, I set out to be intentional. I invited our pastor and his family over the night before we officially moved in. I lured them with pizza and asked them to celebrate with us. And then, before they could escape, I requested that our pastor pray over our new home. (I would have asked him to bring on the holy water, if our church did that sort of thing. For real.) I specifically asked that he would pray for God to use this place and fill it with whomever he desired, as often as possible. I strongly felt that it would be a grave waste if we didn’t use this place for His glory. And, He has. And I pray for much more.
Some people believe hospitality falls under the umbrella of spiritual gifts. I do believe some of us are probably better at it than others. Really, I am NOT highly skilled in this area. Half the time, I don’t even remember to offer folks a drink when they come in. But in 1 Peter 4:9, we are commanded to show hospitality to others. To top it off, my beloved Peter says, no grumbling about it either.
In Romans 12:13, we are told to seek to show hospitality. Not just do it when the need arises or when you are forced to, but actually look for, or search out these opportunities. This verse implies intentionality.
Whether we think we measure up or not, we’re still called to it. Cheerfully.
Order some pizza. Stock up on paper plates and plastic cups and utensils. Capri Suns and popsicles are inexpensive and super easy for the kids. (Organic mamas, don’t hate. Buy the Honest Kids juice pouches, if you prefer.) This isn’t the 1950s and we don’t need to bust out the china. You don’t have to add more to your crazy schedule. Invite people to what you are already doing. If I’m enjoying sidewalk chalk in the driveway with my kids or taking them to the splashpark, text some people. I love posting random invites on our neighborhood Facebook group and seeing who God sends along. If you invite me to hang out in your dirty house, it honestly makes me happy. That way, I have the freedom to invite you into my mess as well. (If you haven’t noticed, the importance of community and soul friends is high on my list, and I am certain to write about it many times over.)
In those early, lonelier days of motherhood, I longed for someone to invite us over. We desperately needed to get out of the house sometimes. And having a regularly scheduled event was like a jackpot for me. So, after joining my first moms group four years ago, I began inviting people like crazy. Playdates at our house, regular meetings for the women I knew, regular gatherings at the neighborhood park, you name it. I’m still doing this. Because somewhere, somebody needs it. A lot of times, the somebody is just me.
For more on how loving your neighbor means actually knowing your neighbor, check out my friend Melissa’s post!