Monday, June 3, 2019

Let Them Come In

I met her about a year ago.

We were serving together at a homeless shelter. As we talked, I began to piece together that her and I were pretty different. She wasn't just coming to serve because it seemed like the right thing to do. This place, in fact, was her current home. She was serving her friends and her roommates, some that she interacted with on a daily basis. I was serving strangers that I might see once a month, if I made the time for it.

I saw her at church a few times after that.
I tried to make it a point to talk to her each time.
When it was time for our church to serve again at the homeless shelter, she apologetically told me that she wasn't going to help serve because last time she hadn't gotten a chance to eat.

Months went by without seeing her. I would often wonder where she was and how she was doing.

But then, in January, she came back to church. I began talking to her before the service started, but we were quickly interrupted by the music beginning. I found my way to my husband, with a ludicrous thought bubbling up from within. Kel, I whispered. I think we need to invite her to live with us. He graciously nodded his approval and the second the benediction ended, I scurried over to her. I hadn't thought through much about what words were coming out of my mouth or how I ought to say them, but I found myself asking questions and eventually inviting this woman into our home.

I never saw her again.
We went to Costa Rica, came back, got busy with work and school, went to church, served at the homeless shelter...and she wasn't anywhere.

On May 5th, she reappeared at church. We pulled up into the parking lot and saw her immediately. We hugged and throughout the course of the morning (before and after the service), we had ample time to talk. She was still at the homeless shelter, still not able to find a job... but she was interested in coming out to our community group on Monday nights. I told her she could stay the night afterward, if she needed a place. We drew her a map and wondered if we'd see her again.

On May 6th, she appeared at our house.
On May 29th, she left.

There's been a vacancy since she left that I'm not quite sure how to describe.
I learned a lot in those 3+ weeks of having a stranger live in our home.
I learned a lot about generosity. Not just with our things or our money... but with my time. With my ears. With my space. I learned that maybe those things aren't really mine at all.

I learned that I can't control outcomes, or people, or that maybe what I think is best is not actually was is best. I learned about letting go, about trusting, about simply not knowing.

I learned that sometimes when I think I'm the one who is supposed to be giving or offering...that maybe I'm supposed to be receiving. That maybe the Lord wanted me to learn from her much more than He wanted her to learn from me. I learned the beauty of listening, of paying attention, of being present...even when I had a million other things that I would have rather been doing.

It's been a lesson on getting over self.
Of recognizing pride.
Of walking faithfully, even when I don't know what that actually accomplishes.
Of opening our home, even when we don't know the outcome (or even the person).
Of redefining "ours" and "mine"... and learning how to replace those pronouns with "His".

I don't know who the Lord might bring into our lives next, but I do know that I am more convinced than ever that my job is to let them come in. Into "our" home, into "our" space and allow them to take up "our" time, and eat "our" food and use "our" things. To let them come into our lives. And to do what we can to love them, no matter how long or how short that season may be.

In a world that is pressing more than ever for us to take care of "our"selves, I'm quite convinced that Biblically we are called to do quite the opposite. To consider others as better than ourselves (Phil 2), to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12), to bandage up wounds and to take care of others--even those whom we might despise, or might be completely opposite of us (Luke 10).

I don't know where my new friend will go or if I will ever see her or hear from her again. I don't know if her short stay in our home did anything positive for her or made any sort of lasting impact in her life.

But I do know that it has affected me.
And I think God is ironic in that way. Reminding me that I know so little and have so much to learn. Reminding me that He is King of my whole life, not just some aspects of it. Reminding me that He is God...and that He brings about growth and change in His timing and in His way.

"Our" home feels more open now. Less like it's mine to control or protect. More like it's His to bring in whomever He will, for however long He will.

And it's hard.
And sad.
And heartbreaking.

But it's good. Worth it.
A reminder that this life is meant to be lived not for my glory or my benefit... but for His.

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