Welcoming Them In

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

March 29, 2017
Making friends can be TOUGH. We talk about it all the time. We move to a new place or get a new job or settle into a new church and all of a sudden we realize just how much having friends means to us. We strike up conversations and go to gatherings in an attempt to connect with people to share our lives with. We meet a lot of nice people. We meet some really strange people. We discover who has time and space and who doesn't. Explaining ourselves over and over again grows old. Just about the time we decide we can't do this much longer, things click. We settle in. We look around and realize that one friend turned into a whole group of them and it wasn't so bad after all.

I'm finally to that point. I didn't know that I was, but going away for two weeks made it clear that I am. It took a solid year before I met someone who wanted and had time for the same kind of friendship I was looking for. I don't know if my attitude changed or if being her friend meant that some of her friends became my friends by default, but six months later, I found myself on the other side of the country looking forward to the get togethers that would happen when I got home. If you've ever started over from scratch in a new place or grown weary in the hunt for some good friends who live nearby, then you know how HUGE this is.

I spent a lot of months trying to be super friendly and it wore me out. When I had reached the place where I was admitting that I was tired of meeting people, all of a sudden, I became fast friends with someone. We got together when we could and texted in between times. I was satisfied with having just ONE solid friend, but God wasn't finished. I kept putting myself out there and slowly but surely, I connected with more people. Connecting is one thing. Welcoming them in is another.

The work of welcoming them in means being honest. It means explaining yourself, asking questions, answering questions, and really taking time to listen. It means making time and granting time. It means learning things about them and trying to find common ground. I've never been the kind of person who needs to have a ton of friends. I like to have one or two people who know me really well and are just as much my go-to person as I am theirs. That said, I have a lot of long distance relationships. I've learned that having friends close by is important too.

When my attitude about anything bothers me, I step back. I ask myself what bothers me, why it bothers me, how I got there, and what I need to do to "fix" it. As you know, my attitude towards hospitality had reached an all time low and I KNEW that things HAD to change. So, I did what I do. I wrote it out. I prayed it out. I sought God. I talked to myself and observed myself and figured out that I already knew what I needed to do.

Before I left for my trip, I had two very specific opportunities to practice what I was calling myself to do. My friend Annika texted me asking if I wanted to meet up for a walk. Schedules were tight, but I found a way to make it work. She left her car at my house and we walked the trail my brother and I bike. We walked and talked and it was great to stretch our legs on such a long walk after so many months of being cooped up. When we made it back to my house, a voice in my head told me that I should invite her in. I knew that voice was right...So, I did. I invited her in for tea. I offered her some of the cookies I had made the day before. We sat in my living room and talked about her family's new business venture and who knows what else.

A few days later, I was with some friends who were talking about a movie that I knew about but had never seen. One thing turned into another and by Saturday, we were planning a get together to watch it. That voice popped up again telling me to offer to host it. It was the Saturday before I flew to MA. I was busier than busy getting ready for my trip, keeping up with regular life stuff, and running extra errands that had to be done before I left. But, I spoke up and invited them in. The next afternoon, I bustled around the kitchen making simple snacks. The time we had set arrived and the doorbell rang. One by one, they came in. We stood around my kitchen munching on snacks and visiting. We started the movie and when it was over, we sat in silence until the conversation picked back up. We moved back into the kitchen and talked and talked until everyone decided that they really had to go.

Neither offer was a big deal. It was a cup of tea, a movie, some cookies, and a buffet of snacks. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't fancy, it was just welcoming them in. And you know, it was really nice.

I told you to ask me how it was going when I got home. And I'm checking in to tell you that it's going a lot better. Sometimes hospitality falls into our laps, like it did the day after I got home. Other times, hospitality is something that we have to consciously pursue. I'm working on it. So far, I'm doing alright.

Have you ever started over in a new place?

How is hospitality going for you right now?

3 comments:

  1. I love all of this so much. First of all, I'm with you that starting over can be SO SO draining! I consider myself an extrovert but after going to a church for 2 years and not making any friends (despite my overly-eager attemptedly-friendly face each Sunday), it was like water in the desert to make a whole GROUP of friends in the first 6 months at our next church.

    I'm so, so happy you've found that community and friendship which is SO difficult to find in the post-high-school/post-college life!

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  2. I'm so happy for you that you've found a group of friends! Saying "yes" truly is the best way to develop friendships and build on those relationships. Sometimes you really don't feel like saying "yes," but those who always say no eventually no longer get asked.

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  3. I love this post. Friendship and making new friends is so hard, but maybe I'm overthinking it. I think I need to follow your advice!

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