Updated: May 16, 2020
For the past few months I've felt like my life has been in upheaval.
It began when my husband and I moved into our house in May. Our first house. Property that we officially owned. It began when we verbalized our decision to give that house (and our lives) a purpose: to love people as well as we humanly can and to practice hospitality.
It was one small decision that made a very big impact.
A home without people is just a house. We wanted to build a home, a place where people could come, feel welcomed, and be themselves. In order to make that happen in our physical space, we had to make that happen in ourselves, first.
While some people are able to craft fake fronts that showcase emotions and morals they do not feel in their hearts, I believe those fronts will always fall away to reveal the true self. Anything that is not genuine will eventually be made obvious. And I have never enjoyed anything fake. It's difficult, exhausting, and the "real" is much more fun (if a bit vulnerable and humbling).
There's so much life to be found in the real and the living.
We didn't quite know when we began what we were getting ourselves into. I actually think it's safe to say we still have no idea what we're getting into. There's still a lot of change ahead. Maybe another reason I started this blog was to document that change, and I just don't realize it yet. It's exciting to think about.
The first decision, as I mentioned, was choosing to love people and practice hospitality. The second decision was figuring out how that looked in our lives.
All of a sudden we were met with many opportunities. Opportunities that seemed difficult and scary. I am a fearful person, but I decided that fear wasn't allowed to get in the way of my decision to live better.
My God is so much bigger than fear, and I am learning day by day how true that is.
If you think that means I wasn't apprehensive or nervous or scared at all, you're wrong. I had moments of panic. I questioned my decisions and motives many times. I overthought everything. It is so like me to think of only what I can do.
I forget that I can "do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13), especially when those things line up with His heart for people. After all, Jesus himself said that the first commandment is to love God, and the second is to love people (Mark 12:29-31). How easy it is to forget that God rates our love for others only second to our love for him!
These are the reminders that kept me going, that pushed me toward my goal of love and hospitality, even when the thought terrified me. I've also been amazed at the people and resources that suddenly appeared in front of me to help me along toward my goal.
I started by saying yes.
If you let fear get in the way of trying something new, you may never discover a deep and exciting passion for that thing. It works this way with hobbies and experiences. Of course it would also work this way with letting God use us.
I said yes to some opportunities at church, where before I had been minimally involved. My husband and I took a class to decide if we wanted to become mission partners (our church's version of membership). I was invited to team up with others in the church to promote missions, and to help women connect in friendship with other women in the church.
We agreed to lead a young children's Sunday class. I hadn't watched over multiple young children in more than five years, and a room full of them seemed overwhelming. It absolutely was, but my husband and I looked at each other when the hour was over and said, "That was good."
I also said yes to opportunities to become better friends with coworkers. I also said yes to opportunities to practice hospitality outside of my home. I also chose to smile more at strangers and share kind words with the people I run into out and about, in an effort to brighten their day.
Now, I realize I can't say yes to everything, and I haven't. The difference is I'm saying "no" because that's not what I need to be doing, instead of saying "no" because I'm afraid it is what I need to be doing.
I refuse to let fear stop me from discovering a better way to live life.
I'm working to stop claiming time as my own. It isn't mine. It isn't anyone's. We cannot possess time. While I very much need moments alone to rest and build up energy (hello, introvert here), I've found that when I use time for someone besides me I become joyful.
So I've started looking at time as an opportunity to create memories, have human interaction, and as a tool to show love to others. That means giving away something that wasn't mine to begin with, and still receiving joy in return.
I'm not talking about joy brought about by that one thing kept in your house while you donate nine others. I'm talking about real, raw emotional joy. The "we just sat on the sofa for over an hour and talked about some really hard stuff and cried and hugged and are better for it" kind of joy.
If you aren't sure what I'm talking about and are curious, feel free to reach out. I'd be happy to talk about it with you.
It's an emotion that if you've experienced it once, you want to experience it again.
So you seek after it. You become willing to make the changes in your life that will bring it about, even in the face of fear. You learn to love.
That's the journey I'm on. I hope you'll join me.