Friday, May 30, 2008

Eating humble pie

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror yesterday afternoon and wanted to turn away. But let me tell you, when the world outside the church of Jesus Christ points and says, "But they're just all a bunch of hypocrites," I must answer, "Of course, we are." At least I am. And though I hate admitting it, I would hate even more not to. So I take a big gulp, swallow my infernal (because of course it is infernal in the truest sense of that word) pride, and here goes:

More than once in our long life together, the Beve and I have opened our home to others. We've had friends, family, and even almost friends stay with us for extended periods. Once, we even had a family of four, all their belongings plus a cat, move in with us for three months, displacing two children, our dogs, and at times, causing all five of us (and two dogs) to hole up in our bedroom while they had the run of the place. It was hard on all of us, and hard on them...I went to Great Britain at the end of that time, and the Beve practically lost his mind. The point is, we've practiced hospitality.

The thing is, hospitality isn't really a talent with me. Not even close. For the most part, it stresses me out. For all my pretty words yesterday about living life in the front yard, in the village, I'm more of a pull up the drawbridge and make sure there's a large moat around the castle kind of person, if left to myself. I love people, but crave, the way one craves breath, my solitude. It really is the air I need to be right with God and humans alike. I am used to my people, of course. I like the unfolded way one can be at home, with one's own people--in pajamas, and slicked back hair. Fortunately, God doesn't leave me to myself...He gave me the Beve, who is all about hospitality. Created in his inmost being with a heart to serve, entertain, minister in practical ways to people, by feeding, housing, and generally loving them in our home (as well as everywhere else).

So when the Beve asked me two nights ago--the first night E got in for a VERY short trip from Colorado-- about taking in a girl for a few days, I wasn't enthusiastic. It's really a complicated time anyway, with E's visit, not to mention my book and all. (And now I'm trying to justify this...) So he said he'd keep looking for another placement, though his instinct was that we'd be the best place for her. But yesterday afternoon, after he figured it wasn't happening after all and went off to mow with SK, I got a call from a woman who had this girl with her, asking for directions to our house, and for all our information so background checks could be done on us. And every fiber of my being was crying, "NO!" But I gave her directions, hung up the phone--then felt really mad at the Beve for a few minutes. Then I looked in the mirror.

Did I dare refuse what God might be asking of me, of us? Would I be selfish when a life was at stake? For all my words here, all my words other places, I would risk refusing? Obedience. It came down to obedience. Being who I say I am, doing what I claim is right. Kingdom work--in my home. I cried a few more tears, letting go, asked God to make it right inside of me, and called a friend to pray that same prayer with me. Then went to figure out what the sleeping arrangements might be while E was home.
And there was E, calmly cleaning the remodeling tools out of J's room so we could make up his bed for the girl coming to our home. E's lived in this family, she's seen us do this again and again. She took it for granted that we would gladly welcome this new friend. I looked at my daughter and relearned what I'd taught her. Thanked God for her.

Ten minutes later, a lovely 15 year-old girl with big brown eyes and a solemn face walked into our home. I heard something in her voice so asked where she was from and she said, "Well, originally from Zaire."
What a God we have--to bring us a new friend from Africa! Can you believe it? She's delightful. By the time we finished dinner, and E finished telling us about her trip to the dentist (E has TERRIBLE teeth!), V was laughing--we all were--and I think she felt okay about us. This is a good thing, as things tend to be when God works. I should have known.

I look forward to learning V's stories, to becoming family with her, as we much as we can. I don't know how long she'll be with us--maybe two weeks, maybe a month. It doesn't matter. I'll learn to be my unfolded self with her. It took me about two minutes to know that it part of God's intention here. The Beve knows what it costs me to do this and thanked me last night, but I have much to thank him for as well. After all, it's good to eat humble pie now and then.

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