Here's a great way to get more comfortable inviting others into your home.
My women’s group is studying the works of mercy, and we recently started a challenge to help us all grow in hospitality and vulnerability.
At our weekly meeting, we were discussing all of our insecurities about having people over to our homes–feeling like we had to have a perfectly clean house or just struggling with letting people into our spaces for one reason or another.
Then, one of the women proposed a challenge to help us break out of our heads and practice stretching our hospitality muscles. Sometime in the coming week before our next meeting we were to surprise another woman in the group by showing up at her door for a visit.
Everyone agreed to try the idea, and it ended up being so popular we did it for three weeks straight. It also just happens to be the perfect challenge for Advent, as we prepare our hearts for a guest whose unexpected arrival shook up the world, and continues to shake things up to this day.
So here’s how it went: Every woman who wanted to participate wrote down on a small piece of paper her name, home address, phone number, and times she would for sure not be home (for example, I’m gone 8 to 5 on weekdays, and will be out of town this Saturday). Then everyone in the group drew a name and had a week to pop in on their drawn name unexpectedly. And when I say “pop in” on, I mean “show up at their door ready to visit for a bit.”
We had several ground rules for the challenge …
First, you were allowed to give no more than a 10 minute warning via text before you arrived. We made exceptions for a couple of women who lived farther away, but if you were local, we kept the “10 minute heads up” rule.
Second, when you were on the receiving end of a visit, you were not allowed to apologize for the state of your house.
Third, there were no expectations for the visit. You didn’t have to bring anything or serve any food, and the visit didn’t have to last a certain amount of time. You just had to be willing to give each other the gift of your presence for as long or short a time as you had.
Then, at our next meeting, we started it off by going around and sharing how the visits went. Hearing how other people received your visit or experienced your hospitality was helpful, as was listening to the stories of how other people practiced hospitality. Overall, we all agreed that the challenge helped open our eyes to how others are not off limits, and increased our comfort with inviting people into our mess.
We live in a generation where we can and do arrange everything by text. So, usually to set up a time to get together with someone, I will text to arrange a time, text on the day of to make sure we are still on, text when I’m on my way or have arrived. It was both scary and freeing to visit someone without all of the check-ins and confirmations that custom seems to require.
If you have a few friends, or a larger group that you’re a part of, give this challenge a try!
Look to Mary as the ultimate example of and inspiration for hospitality. She had the grace and humility to accept the arrival of our Savior into her womb at a time when pregnancy and motherhood were not on her radar. And then she went immediately to spend three months with her cousin to help her out.
Mary, teach us to welcome others just as you welcomed your son, and to serve others as you served your cousin Elizabeth. Happy Advent!