This week I welcomed my first house guests! 3 of them!
And for the sake of simple math;
3 guests + the 3 of us = 6 people
6 people in my 650 sq feet New York City Apartment!
6 people not including our mouse ‘friend’ Luca –Yes, I gave him a name… and no, a name doesn’t make me anymore excited to see him bolting into my kitchen in the middle of the night!
3 days, one bedroom, one bathroom, a pull-out couch and an air mattress! Praise Jesus!
As I prepared for my guests arrival, I couldn’t help but to think of how much my life had changed in just a year…
In my ‘past life’ I often enjoyed making extravagent themed meals – because a meal with a theme, is so obviously more enjoyable 😉 – and making wall art out of paper bags and poster board! I even noticed when Rachel started folding her bath towels differently, and went home to practice folding mine the same way!
I know some of you probably want to punch me in the face! I kind of want to punch me in the face too, when I say things like that, but ’tis the truth!
I started to cry at the thought of how my life had evolved from throwing exquisite 1st birthday parties – complete with intricately handmade party favors and melted ice cream cone cake pops – to transporting already-smushed hamburger buns for an hour long train ride from Manhattan to Yonkers, for a shotgun 2nd birthday barbeque in Ricky’s aunt’s neighbor’s backyard!
I recalled my previous guest room – the one I had designed straight out of a magazine, with crisp white linens, a dramatic gray wall, and a crystal chandelier overhead.
Only to then have my thoughts turn to our ‘new accommodations’, which consist of nothing more than a cracker-crumb laden pull-out couch that the mice feed under!
Tossing in bed that night, I was overwhelmed with how little I had to offer my guests.
The next morning, I woke up in a frenzy; scrubbing the grout in my bathroom floors for an hour an half, rearranging my dishes, and doing anything I could to overcompensate for the fact that my new home is reminiscent to that of a tree house!
Hours later, and after I had exhausted myself, I sat breathless and weary… and even more, frustrated with the Lord.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but to feel that by God calling us to move here, that He had chosen to take something sacred from me; relocating us to a place where cooking is a near impossibility, and Pinterest is a taunting smack in the face! It often feels like my back’s up against a wall of mediocrity – thanks to such a small living space, and an even smaller patience level!
With only had an hour till my guests arrived, I looked around, and was surprised to find that after scrubbing nearly every surface, and moving random pieces of furniture around, that my apartment looked almost exactly the way it had before! Only difference was the air smelled of ‘Autumn Sunset’ thanks to the scentsy pot that I had running on over drive!
All that work, and nothing to show for it!
I realized then, it was something in me that needed to change!
I recalled the story of Mary and Martha; two sisters who invited Jesus into their home.
The bible says Martha was distracted with serving; probably scrambling to pick up the shoes that the kids left scattered on the floor, fluffing pillows on the couch in a fury, and looking up a quick pinterest recipe to ‘wow’ her unexpected guest! Maybe even fretting when she didn’t have the right ingredients, wishing she would have picked up some fresh flowers on the way home, and anxiously wondering if the little she had to offer Him was enough -just as I had done the night before!
Her sister Mary -who seemed to not have a worry in the world – chose to instead, sit at the feet of Jesus and listen intently to him as he spoke.
Jesus then called Martha to his side…
” Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I could feel the Lord asking me in that moment, to do the same-
to be like Mary and not Martha…
Martha in the bible, and even more, not like Martha- flipping- Stewart!
You see, Martha’s primary focus was on RESPONSIBILITIES while Mary’s priority was RELATIONSHIPS!
Martha thought about what she could DO for her guest, while Mary wanted to savor the moment she was blessed to SHARE with them!
Oh, how I need that reminder at times!
In 2 Timothy 1:16 another example of true hospitality can be found when the apostle Paul describes a home that graciously took him in.
Paul writes these words,
“May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for they often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains”
By the sound of it, this family wasn’t appreciated simply because they made homemade pot roast, and provided 400 thread count sheets and a clean towel every day!
The family of Onesiphorus stood out to Paul above all others, because ‘In the heat of his affliction and persecution, they were like a fan in hot weather; cooling and reviving his spirit.’
They didn’t care about the baggage Paul carried – the chains he wore – and the mistakes he made! They showed love to him regardless, and openly welcomed him into their home.
I realized then, that biblical hospitality has less to do with what you can do for someone, and a whole lot more about what you can give of yourself!
No matter what our living situation is we can always offer a listening ear, an encouraging word, or an open mind! Always!
And so I put the mop and clorox wipes away…
I worked hard to be present, and to refrain from demanding that the shoes be put in the closet.
I chose to stock the fridge with take-home pizzas, and premade conveniences – that the ‘former me’ would have scoffed at – but continuously reminded myself that this weekends guests were getting my attention, not just my efforts!
There were times when I struggled to find my sense of humor- like the one flippin’ time I attempted to turn the oven on and the fire alarm went off!
And other times, where I had to adamantly choose to let go of hurt and past offenses –the chains we had been wearing– and instead choose not to hold a grudge.
In the end we would all share a surprisingly wonderful birthday weekend together – even with the smushed hamburger buns, store bought cake, and sleepless nights on the pull-out couch!
And the Lord taught me a lesson I can only pray I will have the courage to live out…
To choose today, to be present above all else!
To do less, but savor more!
Step away from the mop, and say yes to staying in our pajamas!
To quit checking emails, and get on the floor and play with our children.
Let the dishes sit in the sink and instead, eat double stuf Oreos with our husbands!
And maybe even spontaneously invite someone over… for take out!
Truly seek to refresh others,
And don’t be so surprised when you too, find the refreshment your soul has been longing for!