Hospitality – Welcomed and Known
Welcomed and Known
Part 2 in our summer series, "Come To The Table"
My parents tried to have children for seventeen years. They prayed for years that God would grant them the gifts of parenthood, whether through biology or adoption. Through the waiting, they prayed fervently, spent time loving on friends’ and siblings’ kids, thoughtfully designed and built a home intentionally convenient for a family with little ones, and even bought a minivan in the hope and belief that God would fill the seats with children of their own. They created spaces in their lives, hearts, and home so that when the time came, they would be ready to receive children with open arms.
One evening in late October of 1995, my sister and I, then 2 and 3 years old, walked into my parents’ home for the first time. We were met with a brightly painted bedroom, shelves filled with books and games, and two people who were determined to give us a true sense of home and family. Fresh out of foster care and time in a children’s group home, our ability to feel at home took a great deal of preparation, sacrifice, effort, and time on my parents’ part. It wasn’t perfect by any means–it wasn’t meant to be perfect. We were in the process of becoming family, after all. Tears were often shed. Our room was in a constant state of disaster with scattered toys and books. Dinners weren’t always successfully executed. We all spoke words out of impatience. There was always an unfolded load of laundry stationed somewhere in the house.
This is in part the great beauty in hospitality: we find freedom in knowing that being hospitable has nothing to do with our perfection, and everything to do with simply sharing our open seats. The essence of hospitality is found in original Greek translation: “love to strangers.”
It truly is so simple–create space in your lives and hearts to make those who are not yet known to you, known.
Perhaps that space is for a child needing a forever home. Perhaps it’s a seat meant to be filled with a foster mama who is overwhelmed by the task she has taken on, needing encouragement and a shared cup of coffee. Perhaps it’s meant to be a rotating seat, filled with children who temporarily need a place of safety and love.
I ask you to consider—what kind of hospitality might God be calling you into? Where can you create space in your life to show hospitality towards others? If these questions scare you, may you turn to Christ in trust and faith as you consider where He might be leading you to neighborly action.
So what happens when our well-intentioned and committed attempts at hospitality take a difficult turn? How do we find strength to press on? The call may be simple, but the work of it can be hard and grueling. Of course it is! It makes sense that we will reach the end of ourselves at some point as we invite others into our imperfect lives. Our answer is found as we consider the greatest, most profound example of hospitality; God Himself inviting us to His table, not as strangers or enemies, but as adopted children coming to share in a family meal. In the Gospel, we are invited to receive, and in response, we are called to participate. He has not left us alone as orphans, and He will not leave us now as we follow Him. Leaning into our identity as His beloved, adopted children gives us the endurance we need to continue on as His hands and feet in the world.
The beauty of this "empowered" hospitality, especially in the context of adoption, is that we know that one day we won’t be strangers anymore. We will sit around the table with each other–again and again–growing in knowledge and love of one another. Just as we grew to love the God who made us His children, the people sitting in our chairs and sleeping in our beds can become dear friends–even family.
I know this firsthand; somewhere along the way of hot dog dinners on paper plates, falling asleep during bedtime stories, apologizing for sour attitudes and harsh words, and fries dropped and long forgotten in the crevices of that white minivan, my sister and I started calling our parents “Mom” and “Dad.” We were finally accepted. We were finally family.
CeCe is a daughter, wife, and new mother to a sweet baby boy. She originates from Atlanta but currently calls Orlando “home.” Her heart is truly one of a kind–she is quick to love in a profound and rare way and she lives life with abandon, seeking to glorify God in the radical moments as well as the mundane. She celebrates strong coffee, good conversation, and looks forward to incorporating adoption into her own family one day.
(Galatians 4:5, Hebrews 13:2, Romans 12:13)
Anslee de LasticJune 29, 2018 at 3:13 pm
My sisters and I were some of those beloved “friends’ kids” of your amazing mom and dad! The treasury of toys and games kept in their closet-under-the-stairs is legendary and a perfect example of their hospitality to their smallest friends. I’ll remember it and their welcome forever. I had it in mind trying to make my own home more comfortable and fun for my littlest friends in our small Brooklyn apartments. I had that closet in mind when I added a basket of toys to our living room when we were in our 3rd or 4th year of fertility struggles. I’m inspired anew to set aside some toys again, maybe ones not chewed or bruised so much by our two littles, just so nieces and nephews, friends and strangers might have a small treasure of toys to themselves during a visit. Your family has been at the forefront of my mind throughout our entire adoption journey. We have welcomed our son into our family in part because of the example you and your parents set for us. God continues to pour out His love and hospitality through your parents and you two amazing sisters, dear ones. God be praised and give you His joy!
Jean RectorJune 28, 2018 at 10:22 am
Thanks for sharing, love your story!