It’s the night before our next guest moves in and, yet again, I am lying awake listing all the reasons this isn’t going to work in my head.
We may have an amazing video of why hosting is so brilliant (and it is), but the cameras sneakily managed to hide the kicks under the table between arguing boys and the dirt on the windows.
Although we’ve hosted before, and know how beneficial it is to our family and to our guest, I still feel apprehensive at the unknowns of what is to come. We’re a normal family. And hosting shouldn’t work. But it does.
So, just in case you are interested, here are my reasons why hosting’s not for us:
- We have children. And not children who are peaceful types who sit and play quietly in their rooms. Oh no. Sometimes (read that as ‘every day’) it’s like another war in our house as they navigate the complexities of relationships. They shout. They scream. They play loud drums and guitars. They blast pumping music from their bedrooms. They make a lot of mess (read that as ‘they never keep anywhere clean or tidy, especially the bathroom’).
But do you know what I’ve discovered? Their normality brings healing as people who haven’t seen repentance, forgiveness, conflict resolution and unconditional love and acceptance get to witness that first hand in our home. And the values that are deposited in our boys because we welcome those who have nothing are treasures that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Their simple love humbles me often. It’s a win win.
- I’m an introvert. Sharing my space is not easy for me. Impossible, sometimes. I need time to breathe, potter and think. I need alone time for my brain to process life. It doesn’t come naturally to me to have others in my home.
The flip side of this is that my capacity to love, sometimes sacrificially, has grown enormously. I see this practical act of sacrifice as my worship to a God who has given everything for me. And so, when my kitchen is full of people and my brain is screaming for peace, my worship is all the sweeter.
- Jared isn’t home all the time. He travels as a self-employed hotel assessor. This means that the boys and I are left with our guests overnight, sometimes for several nights. And we’ve had more male guests than female. This shouldn’t be good. And yes, we’ve put safeguarding boundaries in places and thought through all the practicalities.
But I’m not scared. I’ve never once been frightened. Because our guests have been through far more than I could ever possibly imagine and, so far, they’ve just been grateful to be with people who love them. Perfect love casts out fear, so when we love and keep loving, the fear melts away.
- I’m not great at trying new foods. Oh yes, the boys are fabulous at it. They make up for my reluctance. But I don’t like spicy food and more than once I’ve had to refill my water throughout the meals while my mouth calls the fire brigade.
But our cupboards now have foods in them from all over the world. I’m learning that to love and welcome means to embrace the change my tastebuds are protesting over. Our teenage boys are in food-heaven but I’m learning to accept people by accepting their foods. It’s not ‘me’ but I’m guessing Jesus would eat meals with people from all sorts of cultures and if I profess to follow him, then I will do the same.
- I’m a planner. So far, the people we’ve hosted are not. Not even in the slightest. I like to plan out my week and stick to my plan, including daily meal plans. I don’t like interruptions to my schedule and I like to accomplish everything on my detailed ‘to do’ list. Sadly, people’s complex lives and needs often interrupt this need of mine to tick all my listed items. And inside I bristle at the interruption.
Learning to put people before lists is an ongoing battle of mine. But, in those moments when I have peeled my eyes away from a computer screen or put down all my cooking utensils and switched off the hob in order to listen to a person in pain, I have felt the presence of Jesus with me more than ever before. He is driven by love and compassion, not his ‘to do’ list. His mercy is never-ending. And he has been interrupted by me on more occasions than I can count.
And so, as we prepare our home again for our next guest and all the unknowns that he brings with him, I remember these gains.
Hosting shouldn’t work. But it does. Those things that should make it impossible to host are redeemed and used for good.
Perhaps like me, you can’t see that hosting would work in your circumstances either. My encouragement to you would be to let God be the one who decides. You don’t need to be a perfect family or have everything together first. If he asks you to welcome and love a stranger, he will provide all you need in order to do it. And he will surprise you with the ways he uses it to not only love the broken, but do a deep work in your own heart.
We’d love to chat through your concerns, questions and thoughts. You don’t have to sign on the dotted line to host for the rest of your life. We understand it’s an enormous decision. Give us a call on 07877447341 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
God is waiting to make his power made perfect using your weaknesses. His grace is always enough.