It afflicted the young and old. The sufferer would experience melancholy and loss of appetite. Some even died from it, if the death certificates are to be believed. Some physicians thought it was caused by a certain bone in the body, but that bone was never discovered. Nonetheless, In the 18th century it was thought to be a disease. A psychopathological disorder.
What is it? Nostalgia. Homesickness.
When God created man, He said it is not good for man to be alone, so He created a woman. The very act of creation set in place a need for community. A desire to belong. A quest for connection. We’re made that way, and at one time or another, we’ve all suffered the effects of missing out on it.
I’ve been there, with a deep longing for friendship. I’ve felt lonely and isolated, with nothing but a desire to belong. I’ve felt like an outsider among people who knew about me but didn’t really know me. People who seemed to have no desire to push beyond that invisible line of not-friends-but-acquaintances separating us.
And, as usual, in this place of quiet pain, God worked on my heart. He revealed Himself to me and refined another part of me, teaching me an important lesson:
Sometimes you can’t wait to be pursued. You have to be the pursuer of people.
I’ve known people who are really gifted at this. I deeply admire one particular family who invites people into their home at a moments notice, feeds them, serves them. They don’t care about the state of their home as much as they care about the personal connection. They are good at loving on people.
But that’s not me.
I grew up in a home that had regular guests. My mom is a great hostess. She makes her home beautiful and makes sure there is something to satisfy everyone who stays – whether for a couple nights, a couple hours, or a couple minutes. It’s one of her strengths and one of the ways she blesses people the most, almost without even trying.
But that’s not me either.
I dislike a messy home even when it’s just my family spending time there, so I can’t look past the mess when we have company. I am particular about the type of food I feed my family, so I prefer to offer the same food to others that I would eat myself. I dislike shopping and finding deals on decorations and place settings, so I have a standard set of dishes that I use for everything. If you come to my house and need a napkin, I’ll hand you a paper towel. That is me.
I am not the drop everything, feed you anything, welcome to my mess kind of hostess.
But I really enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a friend. I love to sit on the couch, near my woodstove, and have a heartfelt chat in the winter. Come summertime, I’ll take that conversation to the porch swing or on a long walk. I’ve learned to risk my heart and share the desires and dreams hidden there with someone else, and I love it when I get the chance to encourage them back. In this intimate setting, I can connect with people. I can let them into my home and invite them to be part of my life.
Isn’t that what hospitality really is?
You see, the world is full of broken and lonely people who need a friend. Sometimes life is so busy it’s overwhelming. Other times is underwhelming, isolating, lonely, and even depressing. But through all the seasons and stages of life, one thing doesn’t change: our need for connection.
You and I are uniquely qualified for the job because we have a God, who opened up His home to us through our Savior, who sacrificed His body to rescue us. God did it because He loves us. And it is because we love Him that we need to do the same for others.
So whether your act of hospitality is shown through fresh flowers on the table, beautiful tableware, a quiet retreat to your back porch, or a night out at a bustling cafe, know that what you do is much more important than how you do it. Because hospitality has one goal, one purpose, and that is to bless your guests. Whether it’s a stranger, a new friend, or an old friend, And the world needs us to show it.
Someone needs an invitation today. Will you offer one?