Not one of these posts on Hospitality will be about having a guest room ready for someone to pop in and stay the night. Can I be honest? To me a guest room reserved for the occasional guest is almost like having a church building that only gets used on Sundays and wednesday nights. I’m not saying you’re wrong if you have one… I just think that there are so many needs that could get met if we had a more full time use mentality. I think as Americans we are so wealthy (even if we are struggling pay check to pay check) compared to the rest of the world. But I fear that we are often the least hospitable. I know those are strong opinionated words but it’s just something I’ve observed.
We like our space. We often feel like our kids need their own rooms. We want home to be a safe zone. And Friends, I GET IT! I do. Dan and I often want to shut our curtains and shut out the world and just hibernate during his days off when we can be together. And sometimes, that’s exactly what we do… but never for long. Usually kids voices and a knocking at the door breaks the calm. The first time it happened we had just moved in and it was at 11:00 at night. The neighbor lady wanted us to meet her two half dressed kids… and see if we had any sugar to make kool-aid.
couches are for eating on.
She was once a stranger to me. And I to her. But she actually was one of the first people we met when we moved here. It was over something she needed…a cigarette, and she needed one desperately, at least her body was telling her that. Since then, after we established that we didn’t have any smokes or that we didn’t give out cash, she’s become a regular over here and has found that chocolate, coffee, muffins, or whatever we have around while sitting on the couch is just as good as maybe coming over to smoke. My couch is where she shared with me about the meaning of her many tattoos, how she’s also experienced a lot of pain and loss.. I chimed in with how I know sorrow quite well too. My couch is where we both keep an eye on our kids playing outside running around playing and fighting and finding new games to think up every day. My couch is where she has sat in cool AC while they have gone 4 weeks without power, as she called the power companies and getting the run around as to why it’s not on yet. My couch is where she has come and sat with her son and told me he needed to apologize for stealing some jewelry of mine and then my couch is where I was able to share the fact that I want what I can’t have too and that I’ve thought about stealing as well, but that Jesus is the only person who can change my discontented heart and He wants to change his too.
You might not have such neighbors knocking at your door. But you do have many others in your life and others that God has yet to bring into your life…. who just sitting on your couch sharing with you a cup of coffee..,. or WHATEVER you have. My neighbor will eat whatever I have or offer, I have to admit I feel used when she comes over wanting to eat whatever I have in the house, and mentally I get a speech ready for the next time we see each other about how I feel that’s not good manners. You see I want her to be my friend…. but not be so obviously needy. Just typing that brings conviction to my heart. But then she comes over and I guess it’s God who softens my heart and lets me see that while it may be the need for something in her stomach that initially has her in my home, it’s something else that makes her stay a while longer. Maybe it’s us… but I hope that soon it will be Jesus in us that she’s draw over here for. I hope she will be someone who wants to drink from the well that afterwards she will never thirst again.
couches are for sharing the dark & lonely places.
“I said No. but he didn’t listen and kept going.”, ” I’m afraid at night and drink and drink until I fall asleep”, “I’m through crying, Im just angry now”, “How do you feel about masterbation? Is it wrong?”, “This therapy isn’t working for my son”, “I want to adopt but my husband doesn’t”, ” when my church found out I struggled with same sex attraction they kicked me out of serving in the nursery”, “He yelled at me and then put a hole in the wall beside my head”, “That tattoo is the name of my son who CPS took away from me at birth because I was living on a front porch somewhere”. These aren’t counseling sessions… these are different conversations with friends who have been sitting on my couch sharing a cup of coffee with me. They had stories that made their hearts feel like strangers to everyone around them. I know what that feels like and I know that it’s lonely and that usually a few questions and a cup of coffee is all it takes to open up and all of the sudden what once was in the dark, what once was a lonely place now hold a glimmer of hope and comfort.
couches are for sleeping on.
I’ve been the houseguest of many people before and something about when we can’t stay up talking on the couch anymore and my friend hands me a stack of blankets and a sheet and says “want me to leave the hall light on for you” just lets me know that I am welcome there. It wasn’t because they had a room available, or that I came to them because they had a room available… it was because we wanted to be there… spending time together. We don’t have any guest rooms but we have two couches and we love it when people want to crash on them. So if you don’t have a guest room but you have a sofa…. Ask yourself, is it being used at night to love people well? Who can I offer my living room to when someone is in need? Stop thinking you have to have certain square footage to have people stay over. I loved Stephanie Holden’s Post over HERE about using her little home to bless instead of impress. If you’ve ever thought “I couldn’t ever host more than a person or two overnight” Go read that post.
What are your couches being used for? I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for the curtains to be drawn and for families to snuggle together on the couch in the safety of home. I’m just saying that shouldn’t be all the time.
The next time your church needs a place for a visitor to stay, or a friend PLUS her whole family is in town… Offer up your couch….your floors!! I think you’d be surprised that when the heart is full and hope is there then sleeping well doesn’t necessarily have to do with the type of material you’re sleeping on.
The next time a friend comes to mind just shoot them a text and say my couch is available and I can brew some coffee if you want to come over this week sometime. Let your kids start to understand that couches are for more than lounging… they are for listening well.
The next time a neighbor pops by or you see them out, invite them in… Open the fridge, and whatever you might have offer it to them and then sit and eat with them. (Put biscotti or gingersnaps on the grocery list and pick it up and put it way up high so that you can bring them out when someone pops in) You’ll find that when you’re getting to know someone better and someone feels a little more known that no matter what you’re eating, you’re eating well.