I’ve written before about our hope to keep our home an “open” home. Open meaning, we really value having people living with us, eating meals with us, feeling that they are welcome to be here with us when they want to be. We are not perfect at this. Neither Ben or I have the gift of hospitality per-say, but it’s a high value in our lives.
We have been privileged to be on the receiving end of families who have opened their homes and lives to us, and it has really blessed us. The meals, the conversations, the feeling of shared struggle, the prayers, the laughs… I know I’m probably speaking to the choir here, but can I just encourage you, reader, to open up your home and lives to an even greater extent to those around you. It will bless you in ways you can’t imagine.
Here are some simple ways to begin to crack open you home to your community.
1. Ask and Listen. It’s amazing how surprised some of our neighbors have been by our desire to know simple things about them, like where they met each other if they are married, what they studied in school, how they came to have the dog they have – just their stories. It’s unlikely that very many people are asking your neighbors for their stories, and it’s a blessing for them to have a listening ear every now and again.
2. Food. Food. Food. It doesn’t have to be fancy. At my house, it’s always simple and sometimes not even that great, but it’s offered, and that’s what counts. What a relief for a family with young kids to not have to cook and clean up the kitchen. What a blessing for an older couple to enjoy a large meal with all the sides, when they are usually just cooking for two and not making anything fancy. What a treat for a college student to enjoy dinner banter with young kids.
3. Offer. Invite. Offer. Invite. Again and again. In order for a person to feel comfortable calling you up for a favor, sometimes you have to offer 15 times! Don’t assume the invitation stands. Keep asking and offering, until that neighbor takes you up on something.
4. Follow your heart. Do you harbor a secret soft spot for old men? (I do!) Are you intrigued by your international neighbor’s culture and heritage? Are you concerned about a single mom in the neighborhood? Start there.
It’s not always easy to keep the door open, and sometimes it is right to close up shop and restore your own heart, soul, or concentrate on a family member. But, again, the blessings your family will reap from sowing the seeds of love, interest, compassion, provision, and support are 100 fold!!