Make yourself at home.
It’s something we let slide off our lips without thinking about what it really means. If we invite someone else to be at home in our space, does it mean they can . . .
- leave the toilet seat up?
- say whatever they want to without filtering?
- eat ice cream right out of the container?
There are so many reasons not to invite people into our homes—we’re busy, they’re busy; we’re insecure about our cooking/cleaning/house in general. Besides, welcoming someone into our space makes us vulnerable. It exposes not only our homes but our hearts. It puts us uncomfortably close to another person . . . and opens the possibility that we could get hurt.
So why bother? Why not just go to our own homes, close the garage door, and eat Chinese takeout while watching Netflix?
For the past several months I’ve been getting hospitality lessons from an unexpected source—one who is currently the size of a jackfruit. (Whatever that is—apparently by 40 weeks, the pregnancy books are running out of comparable produce.) This baby growing inside me may not be able to talk, but already this kid is showing me what it looks like to provide a welcoming space for another person.
I’ve been surprised over these past nine months how much a tiny person requires to make him- or herself at home. Before our child was the size of an olive, this little one had the power to wreak havoc on my entire body. How, I wondered, could someone so small make my usually efficient self ready to fall asleep at every red light?
But even with the roller-coaster hormones, stretching skin, and shrinking bladder, it has been a gift to learn hospitality from my new little tenant. Here are some of the things I’m discovering:
Hospitality isn’t always comfortable, but it brings great joy.
This little person is stretching me, physically and emotionally and spiritually. But it’s a good stretching—the kind that broadens the boundaries of my heart and makes me think beyond myself. And the love that comes out of this hospitable stretching, whether it’s for a baby or a next-door neighbor, is worth every moment of discomfort.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
If we waited for ideal circumstances before allowing someone in—either a baby or a houseguest—we would never extend the invitation. Our presence is more important than the perfectly themed nursery or the perfect multi-course dinner, so we just have to dive in and trust that God will give us what we need, moment by moment.
Don’t wait until you have room to invite someone in.
Each month I say, “I have no idea where this baby is going to go!” But somehow, miraculously, my body expands to accommodate the growth. And I think the same is true about welcoming people into our homes and our lives: our capacity grows to fit the need.
Hospitality gives us a peek into God’s heart.
Of all the ways God could have made himself known to us, he chose an extraordinarily ordinary entrance: in the form of a baby. He made his home in us , and he gives us the privilege of inviting him in. And one day he will extend the ultimate hospitality—by inviting us into the home he’s prepared for us.
On that day when he welcomes us into our eternal home, I have to wonder if this will be one of the first things he says:
Make yourself at home.