what being a guest taught me about hospitality (notes on a move)

This move has been bittersweet for certain, but the generosity of our friends falls into the sweet side of things.

When we exist in life’s in-a-bind moments, we’re given the chance see hospitality and love through fresh, new eyes.

Before our for-a-moment roommates were friends, we met them at church. Mr. S. and I were visiting the area and did a little church-shopping. On a whim, we checked out this little church that met in the basement of a bank.

Love at first sight always seemed unrealistic to me. But a girl crush at first sight? Now those I’ve experienced. As Mr. S. and I walked into this church, Jean greeted us.

(True confessions: Girl crush at first sight.)

Jean is creative and has a bigger heart than she knows. With Jean, I never feel that sinking omg-I-just-said-something-awkward feeling. Because she laughs, effortlessly, with you. Never at you; always with you. Now that’s a friend.

Her faith isn’t a push from the back or a pull from the front kind of faith. Hers is a walk beside you faith. A treasure.

She and her husband, Ryan, led a small group with our church and Mr. S. started attending his first week in Lafayette. Ryan is just as cool as Jean. He’s the only tech guy I know who has eked out just the right balance between Mac and PC love affairs. Like his wife, he’s totally hilarious and has a heart of gold.

So when our lease was up, these friends offered up their guest room to us. (If you don’t believe there are kind people left in the world, this example should convince you otherwise.)

Post-college, this was my longest time span living with someone besides Mr. S. I was nervous, but had no reason to be. So here’s what being a guest, interestingly, taught me about hospitality.

1. Dishes are easier done when they’re not yours. Seriously. At our old apartment, the sink was sometimes always filled with dirty dishes. As much as I love cooking, I’m no fan of the ensuing cleanup., and that’s a perfect storm if there ever were one.

But at Ryan and Jean’s place? I had no problem getting my hands soapy and conquering the dishes. It was a way to say thank you, a way to bless my roommates.

Back to hospitality . . . to do my own dishes is to bless my guests, my husband, my neighbors. To do my own dishes is to have a house always ready to welcome community. And that’s worth a little time with soapy water.

2. We didn’t eat dinner together every night, but when we did, it was a fun collaboration. Chopping, slicing, stirring or flipping, we’d try to lend each other a hand.

The opportunity to connect with others in cooking is a special part of hospitality. Hospitality doesn’t have to be a solo effort.

3. Furthermore, there’s something to be said for sharing. When we moved in, Ryan made a point to explain all the tech stuff . . . from the Netflix on the TV to the wifi.

So maybe there’s a lesson there too in hospitality: Share big, and explain away. We would love well by explaining and starting from square one, in every area of life.

4. All of this said, I don’t mean to paint too rosy of a picture. I think Mr. S., Jean and Ryan would all agree: It was not a perfect experience.

But oh, friends, there is such beauty to be found in imperfection.

And in hospitality especially, perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. Living with them was joyful, and there is such value to be found in that. Imperfect and wonderful.

These days? We’re camping out with another dear friend here in KC. He’s kindly offered us a spare room and we’re again simply blown away by his generosity too.

That’s the thing about hospitality . . . it’s bigger than food on the table and a spare bedroom. Hospitality is sharing a big heart.

We are just grateful.

2 thoughts on “what being a guest taught me about hospitality (notes on a move)

  1. David and I have spent a lot of time on the road, and being a guest is definitely the best way to learn to be hospitable. My biggest lesson…it’s easy to be hospitable when the house is clean, the kids are well behaved, and you’re schedule is wide open, but I feel the most privileged when people invite me into their real, messy life. Talk about courageous and vulnerable. What an amazing way to invite your guests to feel at home.

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