Tuesday, February 21, 2012

...Whatever is Admirable...Part 2

It's a goal of mine to develop the gift of hospitality.  Stick with me here, because I'm going to share a little secret.

God has called me to a ministry of encouragement.  (Which is ironic, really.  And that irony is not lost on me.)  Often, that ministry requires gracious hosting (not a gift of mine), words of affirmation (which apparently don't include the words "pansy" or "suck it up"), attentive listening (which means checking email on my phone probably isn't acceptable during our dinner conversation) and occasionally requires laying oneself bare to encourage an atmosphere of transparency (which I can do:  awkwardly.  But recent situations--like changes in the last few months--have a way of causing one to "hole up" so to speak.  So it's another thing I don't have down).

When we built our house, I tried to build it with hospitality in mind.  I wanted a space to entertain, to feed, to laugh and to cry.  I needed the sense of cozy that comes with a well-planned room.  I wanted friends and family to come in and feel at ease to make themselves at home.  (Making themselves at home often means they are comfortable enough to get their own drinks.  That doesn't make me a bad host, does it?)  And now that we're in that house, I'm trying to practice these undeveloped skills and rearrange furniture to reach those goals.

But this post isn't for others to admire me--it's in admiration of people who already do this well.  Sometimes I'm struck dumb by people who warmly embrace people as part of their personal journey.  Their homes and their lives become a testament to the fact that this (however you identify it) really is about relationship.

I've had family model this concept for me before I had words to identify what they were doing.  My dad's youngest brother and his wife have welcomed half of the people in our county to their home with open arms.  My parents "added on" people who were without a home or family.  Shoot--there are more people than I can count who also refer to my mom and dad as their "other parents."  And my church?  Continues to include and invite.

Maybe this whole hospitality thing comes down to one thing:  inclusion.  And people who make us feel like we belong are some of the most admirable in the world.

...If Anything is Excellent...


J said...

Thanks for this! Encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts too and I have been wondering how to best put it into practice. I am loving this series of yours :)

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

I used to think I had the gift of hospitality because I enjoy cooking big meals for people but that's not it. Hospitality is what you're striving for - making people feel comfortable and welcome whether you're feeding them prime rib in your grand dining room or nilla wafers on your holey couch.

I'm not so good at that. It sounds like you have GREAT role models.