Last week, I wrote about finding our party and our joy again in Christianity. God mandated feasts (or parties) were before the Ten Commandments, and feasting was important enough to be commissioned by Jesus in the Last Supper. Finding our joy again is essential to coming home. However, the parties don’t last. At some point, we just have to be home. That’s what we are going to explore today. While the party is great being home lasts longer and takes up more of your time, energy, and effort because it allows you space. Space can do an incredible amount of work if we engage. This article is going to walk us through the space of being at home. It might sound easy, but it is an important foundation if you want to move from receiving hospitality to giving hospitality.“To offer home we must be at home.” @terry_a_smith #TheHospitableLeader Click To Tweet
I don’t know how you feel about home. Maybe you love coming home and always have. If that’s you great! Maybe you hate coming home. I get that too. For the next little bit, we are going to explore being at home. In a larger context, I might refer to it as hospitality as well because home ought to be hospitable. I think home is something many of us forget. I spend most of my days at my house, and I still forget. My family reminds me about home sometimes, but my house can easily become the place where I sleep. To me, Home feels like crushing pressure and exceeding joy.
I want to invite you to come along this journey with me. Hospitality and home is an idea I have been wrestling with all year. As a southerner, hospitality speaks to me deeply in ways that I have wrestled with and thought about for months now. I hope my journey down this road can inspire you to wrestle with or implement suggestions to make your own home more hospitable.
Do you know what home feels like? It is that place that you are afraid to go because you messed up so bad you can’t imagine disappointing the people you love the most. Home is that place where people actually depend on you. We like to think that work is the place people depend on us but it’s not. Work is the place we go to imagine people who depend on us. Work is where we earn that paycheck, where we get away from home, and where survive until we can make it home again.
Home is that place where the pressure is at its highest and lowest. The lowest because we can be ourselves at home. Most likely, you can be your worst at home and the people there won’t abandon you. The pressure escalates because you actually care what the people there think about you. Judgment from that place threatens to break you every day.
So, we leave. We go to work all over the country and the world, and we hide in our laptops and phones. We watch Netflix and eat out just so we don’t have to have real conversations. You know the ones that will make you a better person but might just shatter you along the way. That shattering is what we are afraid of because it is too hard to put yourself back together when someone really sees you and what you stand for, so we abandon ship and head somewhere, anywhere else.
Then one day, there is just too much. Work, phones, TV, movies, Instagram, Twitter, books, people, places, things, busy-ness, it just becomes too much. That’s when we look around and say, “I would rather be shattered at home than out here in all this junk.” At least, I can get a good shower, maybe a healthy meal, and some sleep at home.
So, we come home like the prodigal son. First, home is everything you remembered, only better. Then you are home, and home is everything you feared. It is a place where you get broken down, chiseled out, and ultimately refined in the most uncomfortable way. It hurts, not in a good way, but the smashed between two suffocating rocks kind of way. We get to the point of turning and leaving again, and we show up one more day…
Then we keep showing up. We keep going day after day, and something special happens. Home knocks the dirt off you. It picks you back up and cleans you off. You go to sleep and eat and suddenly it’s ok. It is expected that this happens to you. Discipline happens to you. Home comes into you.It hurts, not in a good way, but the smashed between two suffocating rocks kind of way. Click To Tweet
Two Quick Metaphors
Spelunkers will often get into such tight spaces that they have to exhale and then move. Exhale and then move. It becomes so tight they can’t even fully breath in, so they exhale then move. Crushed between the weight of the earth, and then you get free. Exhale and inhale and you have arrived at the most beautiful of caves. A waterfall that glistens in brilliant joy. Air is clean and it fills your lungs in some of the most satisfying breaths you may ever take. That is what being at home is like. You crawl into the cave and it keeps getting worse until you finally break through to beauty.
The other metaphor might be much simpler to envision but in fact more difficult to obtain. The great Renaissance artist Michelangelo was once asked how he sculpts. He claimed it was simple. “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there. I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” Home just keeps chiseling away the superfluous material.
Earning the advantage of home
Once you fight through the tough stuff, home starts to make sense. It provides a literal and psychological structure around your life that makes you secure in who, what, how, and why you are. Once you get here the home is hospitable to you and that is an earned advantage. So how do you earn that advantage?
4 Steps to Earn The Advantage of Home
Earning the advantage of home takes time. Here are the simplified steps to earn that advantage. It might seem like 7 steps but trust me that is the number 4 down there at the end.????
- Physical Presence – Without being physically present you can’t even get to the next steps because you aren’t actually at home.
- Engage – Once you are physically present you have to engage. As an introvert, I find engagement difficult. I turn off my phone, TV, laptop, and book (yes turn off you kindle readers). Then you have a conversation (it’s the worst????). Then you play and enjoy the people with you.
- Be served – Often times we get so used to going it solo, we fail to let others serve us. Being served opens me up in some unexpected ways. Your job is to watch how people are serving you and why. How leads to part B of engaging. Why explains the culture of the home. Why do they serve: obligation, respect, bartering? The point is to learn the communication style of mutual service. At home, people serve one another, but how they do so can be communicated differently.
- Serve – Now that you know the language of service, you can serve. How and what you do to serve are related to how you have been served. Often, people like to be served in the same manner they serve you.
- Play – If you aren’t having fun, it probably isn’t a hospitable environment or home. However, if you have done A & B then fun is all you lack to cement the bonds of home. Maybe your family is just waiting for you to bring the fun. Think through, suggest, plan, and then have fun.
- Rest – This is something we often forget because we usually only rest in tragedy. However, it is a key component to building the advantage. It allows you time and space to explore, re-evaluate, and see some different facets of yourself and your home. For further reading about rest, I recommend Garden City.
- Keep Engaged – Repeat steps 1-3 to earn the advantage of home.
Home field advantage
One of the greatest advantages a person can have is a hospitable home. There are reasons why sports analysts focus so much on home field advantage. It is the place where you have practiced and earned the right to be. Going to an opponents field is at their invitation. It isn’t a given and when you get there their fans try to make it as inhospitable as possible. Your field, though, is the place where you know the smell of cut grass, and your feet can feel the well-trod paths around the field. You have already adjusted to the lighting, and the roar of the crowd spurs you on instead of defeating you. We have already talked about earning your place. So, let’s dive into what home field advantage is like and what it can give you.
My parents moved a lot around town growing up. Because of the need to move for adult reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I learned to take home with me in my mind wherever we were. But I never had just one place. I always had two. I had the place where I slept and the place where we worshipped, church. Having two homes meant I had double the advantage because there was a place that I could go to and know there were people who cared about me even though they weren’t related.
A Second Home
Church has always felt like home to me. It is filled with weird relatives that want to pinch your cheeks or talk to you like they diapered your bottom (they did). They make excellent food for church potlucks. We got into mischievous fun. There wasn’t a corner in the church I didn’t know. There still isn’t. You could knock me unconscious drop me blindfolded in the church, and I would know where I was in the church because of the texture of the walls, the sound of the floor, and the way the AC blew.
After reading and listening to my generation complain about this church or that tradition or that other teaching, I wondered why we stick around at all. Why don’t we go somewhere else? Why don’t we start our own thing taking the best of what we knew and quashing the worst of our fears? The reason is because church is home to us. I don’t think I know any of my houses growing up as well as I know my childhood church building.Why don’t we go somewhere else? Why don’t we start our own thing taking the best of what we knew and quashing the worst of our fears? The reason is because #church is home to us. Click To Tweet
How can we be at home then in church if we have deviated? How can we offer that home that so many desire? Well, it’s something we are going to dive into next week – creating a hospitable environment. However, for this week I have three suggestions.
First, let’s start partying. I covered this last week. Christianity has a rich history of partying in the worst of times. We should reclaim that history and heart of joy. Second, we should engage warmly. Home is warm. You should be too. Think about the idea of fondness. For anyone I am fond of, I have a certain memory of feeling warm with them. Third, you should rest. The church is a place of rest, and most of us are too busy to be warm and to party, so we aren’t being hospitable. If you stop to rest, then you might also stop to be hospitable to someone.
Being home with little ones
On Thursday, we will explore the practicalities of being home with little ones. You are going to read some imperfect tips from an imperfect practitioner of parenting. I hope you will join me because many times the application of this teaching gets teased out in very real ways for everyone – parent or not. Many times our parenting can inform our faith and I don’t want you to miss out on it. See you on Thursday! Click here to get all the updates in your inbox.Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.