Thoughts on hospitality and the way of the beloved.

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I.

Nine months ago, I had just turned 25 and was desperately trying to navigate living in a new state with a new job in ministry with new people, and too much of my identity was wrapped up in trying to recreate myself into a person who was well liked — a person who fit seamlessly into the role of just enough, whatever that looked like. Just enough edge, just enough grit, giving just enough of a glimpse to keep people intrigued and on their toes. On the inside, I felt lost, deadened.

I treated God much the same way, only giving him the pieces of myself that felt ready. He offered to come in and eat a meal with me, but I wanted him to call ahead. I couldn’t have him walking in on me in my unfinished fig leaves, clawing at whatever mirage of control I thought I could grasp. What I didn’t realize was that he was working all along, breaking the walls down brick by brick, and sometimes that’s what miracles look like. Now, I know: I can look back and see him wooing me. And he is not a God who gives himself in pieces.

II.

I didn’t see the way of beloved coming on the horizon, let alone understand what it had in store for me. I couldn’t have, and perhaps that is the grace of it all. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and how love will choose to rush in. I used to fear that, and to be perfectly honest, I still do fear it on most days. But he knew, and he was already etching thanksgiving on my heart when I chose to etch it on my skin.

Lately, I’ve found myself praying hard for revival, for my own heart, for my marriage, for my friendships, for our church, and for the Body of Christ as a whole. I’ve wept in worship, asking for parted waters, a flood so uncontainable that it couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anything other than a wave of the Spirit. I’ve been begging for a straight path into a promised land.

When you catch a glimpse of the way of the beloved, you want everyone you know to come with you.

III.

I took a spiritual gifts inventory through our church last week, knowing that one of two things would come out on top. I’ve always been told that I am an encourager, and I have always felt called to make people feel at home. In the end, in this particular inventory, hospitality took the top spot, much to my lack of surprise.

Hospitality is, at least in my experience and what I would venture to guess is yours too, most widely viewed as being the hostess with the mostess: the one who opens up their Pinterest pretty home and turns a cartwheel in shiny pumps to hand someone a gluten free bit of slaved over deliciousness without breaking a sweat. And everyone at the party talks about how fine they are.

But really, that’s not the kind of hospitality my thirsty heart longs for. Dare I say that I’m betting that it’s not the kind of hospitality you’re looking for either?

I’m craving soul hospitality.

If there is a revival to be experienced, it won’t be ushered in through our contrived attempts to mimic glossy magazine covers. We won’t find it by closing the doors to our messy places.

Jesus didn’t come and die so that we could simply make ends meet or just do okay or experience the same old stuff on a different day. He didn’t give his life so that we could walk around with the prerecorded response of fine. 

Honestly, I’m not fine.

Neither is my best friend.

A boy in the apartment building next to mine took his own life last week.

The headlines scream war and hate and the world is not fine.

Our time here is so short and precious and we don’t need any more occasions to wear our grave clothes.

IV.

We are broken, and we are broken for each other. We are poured out, and we are poured out for each other. This is the way of the beloved, the way of being transformed to the image of Christ, whose body was broken and poured out for us.

I need you now, and perhaps you need me. I don’t have many answers, but I’m trying to learn how to become one.

Here I am, arms open, with all of my fear and trust issues and temptations and nervous quirks and baggage. And you are welcome here: welcome to cry, welcome to not hold anything back, welcome to start the brick by brick demolition of your own walls, welcome to walk in freedom just for freedom’s sake.

I think I’m finally ready to unpack and call this place home.