About a year ago I read a book about hospitality. It was a really challenging book, and definitely made me take a look at where, or if, I was being hospitable in my own life. I have definitely benefited from the hospitality and generosity of others in the past, like when my Aunt and Uncle let me live with them for a period of time, and when those in my church community have brought me meals during times of illness, etc. One of the suggestions in the hospitality book was to schedule in time to be hospitable to others, and to stick to it. Well, I had scheduled in time, but had failed miserably to follow through, serve others, and make practicing hospitality a habit. Then we had an opportunity to show hospitality to my brother-in-law come up last year right before Christmas. Certainly, one way to grow in hospitality and have it built in to your schedule is to let someone move in with you. So the adventure began…For the last six months my brother-in-law has been living with us. When he first came to stay a lot of people’s response was, “Oh, did you guys move into a two-bedroom?” It would have been nice to be able to answer yes to that. But, instead, we were making room in our one-bedroom apartment. Our dining area became the home of his air mattress and all his belongings. After our chandelier was switched out for a light fixture he wouldn’t hit his head on, and the shower curtain “wall” was hung as a separator, I thought ” this will work out pretty well for a month or so until he finds his own place”. Little did I know that we were in for a bit of an adventure, and quite the roller coaster of lessons to be learned from God. It’s been quite a ride.
At first our house guest was diligently looking for a job and spending some time out of the house, which allowed us to still have some privacy in our small apartment. We were happy to let Aaron join in on meals, and what was ours was his. We wanted to be generous with what God in his grace had provided us.
After about a month, things weren’t looking quite as good. Aaron had yet to find a job and was now pretty much in our home 24/7. This definitely was putting a bit of strain on Brandon and I for communication and closeness. We were learning to be more intentional to make time for each other, since having another person in our home really changed the dynamics of home life.
God was stressing to me during this time how valuable work is for each of us. He did not create us to give in to laziness, much as I may enjoy it. It’s part of God loving us, that he creates us to be productive, and gives us skills and talents that we can use to glorify him. God taught me to be grateful for work, even the small things that I did around the house, and gave me a desire to glorify him in all that I did. It was a helpful lesson, and one that I hope will stay with me for life.
God was constantly teaching me new lessons through this whole experience. Jesus was peeling back the layers of selfishness, and teaching me to be more gracious, kind, and generous. Some days were better than others, and I definitely needed to start over from scratch by reading my Bible and praying to God every day. Having another person in my house 24/7 was a great way to expose my sinful heart. I don’t necessarily recommend having someone move into a small living space with you, but if being sanctified by Jesus is what you’re going for, it is certainly effective.
Then after four months Aaron got a job! Praise the Lord! I thought he’d definitely be out on his own in no time. But, he continued to live with us for a couple months. At this point, all the little frustrations were really building up. I found myself getting annoyed with little things around the house more often. And I was definitely having trouble remembering that God provided all we needed, and that he gives it to us in order that we may pour out grace on others.
And then I had a rather bad hospitality day. A while back we had given Aaron a move out day for just over 6 months on July 4th, “Independence Day”. At the time I thought surely he would have found his own place long before that. Well, we were fast approaching the move out day, and Aaron didn’t yet know where to or when he would be moving out. We both made sure to remind him that he needed to move out within the month, since it seemed as if he might have forgotten. That evening he came home to show us a bunch of material he had bought to make a film: his “second job” as he called it. I pretty much flipped my lid! No more being gracious or hospitable or generous, I was so enraged that he could waste so much money so shortly before his move out date. I said some not-so-nice or gracious things to Aaron that night. Thankfully, we had our Community Group that evening where I could get some encouragement and truth from my brothers and sisters in Christ, which really helped me get my perspective back on God.
The next day, when I was spending time in God’s word, I was pretty convicted of my sinful, selfish heart. Colossians 3:8 says “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” I had not been doing a good job of acting like the new creation that God had made me. I had let my sinful flesh guide my thoughts, attitude, and words. I was grateful that God showed this to me, and that he gives me his grace to move forward and change. I did not like when I was wrapped up in being angry and becoming bitter, and I’m so grateful that through Jesus there is a way to put away our old self and put on a new self, to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Now we are less than week away from Independence Day. I hope that the transition will go smoothly for Aaron. Brandon and I are definitely looking forward to having our space back, but I know someday we’ll all look back on this season when we all lived in a one bedroom apartment together and laugh (especially if Aaron turns out to be a big time filmmaker). This experience has made me all the more grateful for other people’s generosity to me over the years, the sacrifices that they made and the unselfishness they demonstrated. I have been stretched to (and to what felt like beyond) my limits during this season. I know that God works all things together for good for those who love him, so I’m sure he’ll bring good out of all of this. After this Extreme Hospitality adventure, I hope both Brandon and I will be less selfish with what is ours to steward, and more willing to be generous with others. By His Grace Alone!