I mentioned a week or two ago that our church was doing a sermon series about Dangerous Prayers. The three prayers were “God, search me” (reveal any sins I need to repent of in my life), “God, break me” (break my heart for what breaks Yours), and “God, send me” (I’m Yours, do with me as you will).
I prayed the “search me” prayer every day for a week, like they challenged us to do. God did reveal some things that I needed to repent of, which I did. I still pray it occasionally; I don’t want there to be sin in my life. I want to know about it and fix it.
Honestly, I didn’t connect very well with the “break me” prayer. It was like, yep, I’ve been broken. I’m good. I mean, have you read any of my blog posts? I feel like I’ve had my fair share of being broken. God, go pick on someone else this time.
I asked my mentor if she thought I’d been broken. She said “nope!” Wow, thanks. But that is one of the things I really like about her – she doesn’t just say what I want her to say. She tells me the truth, even when it hurts. She said “I think there are different levels of broken. Like.. I’ve been broken of my sinfulness…. I’ve been broken of wanting family the way I thought it should be…I can’t say I’ve been broken to the point of uber action…make sense? I definitely think God got your attention…” So, in a sense I yes, I have been broken. And no, I haven’t been. Well, hadn’t been.
This last week a series of articles kept coming up on my Facebook newsfeed about radical ordinary hospitality, and I kept thinking “oh, I should read those…sometime…when I have time…” This last Friday I finally made time. I started reading the first one and didn’t make it three sentences in before I burst into tears. I connected so strongly with this article about being radically hospitable (it’s a podcast too, in case you like to listen more than read). With every point she made I was like “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!”
My heart burns to be radically hospitable. I want my future home to be open and welcoming. I remember from my childhood how there was one family who had their doors open to us almost all the time, we could go over there and relax, hang out, it was like our “town” home. I want my home to be like that. But more than that. In that article I linked to, the speaker talked about a home being an embassy: a physical representation of a kingdom in a foreign land. That’s what I want my home to be: a physical representation of God’s kingdom in this foreign land. I want to connect people in a neighborhood through good meals, laughter, tears, conversation, hugs, and prayer. I was reading an article about the shooting in Jacksonville, Florida and this comment really stuck out to me:
Catch that? “We have lived here for a long time, and we never talk to them.” Wow. If I lived anywhere other than where I live now (where I can name all the people in a three mile radius from my house) I would want to know my neighbor’s names, to talk to them. I think having an “open house” night one night a week sounds like so much fun; where anybody and everybody in the neighborhood is welcome to come over, bring food or not, hang out, play games, spend time together. Nothing fancy or expensive or being worried about how the house looks, just being about connecting with people.
For a long time I dreamed my “single dream” – how I wanted life to look like if I never got married. It hinged mostly on me having a lot more money than I do now, and being able to have a place where I could welcome people in and still feel some measure of safety. I wanted a big commercial kitchen and a garden (with a gardener to tend it because I don’t like gardening, like I said, oodles of money) and when things were ready to harvest and can, have canning parties where I invited people from all over to come either learn how to can or help me can and we all share in the produce. I imagined the same with butchering parties (yes, we butcher our own meat. Kind of. We used to do it all, but now we take our beef and pork to a locker and have them do it. We get our chicken from a Hutterite colony and cut them up ourselves, because we like particular cuts. I don’t know how to buy meat in a grocery store). Living on a farm in South Dakota you get a certain skill set that most people in cities don’t possess, I’ve discovered. I would love to spread the knowledge of things I grew up doing, teaching people, helping them to be more self-sufficient, and developing relationships with them in the process – but we probably wouldn’t have butchering parties. The only problem I see now with my single dream (besides the whole no-money issue) is that I did want to live in the country, not far from where I live now. Besides God saying a firm “no” to that dream, I’m realizing that living in the country shuts myself off from too many people. If I’m serious about reaching people for God, having my home be an embassy, I need to go where people are.
Here, we pride ourselves on minding our own business, but pitching in to help when people need it. I remember the time a neighbor of ours died in a farm accident. I still get a lump in my throat when I remember the turnout of all the neighbors at harvest time, all the combines lined up in his fields, harvesting his grain for his widow. We’re good at that kind of thing. Having people over for a meal? Maybe some people, but not us. Not many people we know, honestly. I know every neighbor within a three mile radius. I have been in maybe four of the homes that dot that area (yes, there are more than four) and then I think only one neighbor has invited us over for a proper sit-down meal. Pretty sure we haven’t reciprocated.
This isn’t a diatribe against how hospitable or not we are; not everyone has the gift of hospitality and God breaks different people for different actions. To be honest, I’m not sure I have that gift; I’ve never lived anywhere I could really practice it. Sometimes I think “well Anessa, how could you use that gift now, with the limitations you have?” and then I think, “you know what? It’s ok. Keep healing right now (today was a bad day, so obviously I have more healing to do), and someday, since God has laid this so heavy on your heart, He might just put you in a place where you can exercise and develop this passion.” So, we’re back to praying and waiting for what God has for me next.