Chapter 7 - Telltale Marks
Linked with The Common Room's study of this book.
Do you find that sometimes the people you love the most are the people you treat the worst? Maybe it is that level of comfort and familiarity that makes us feel like we can be rude and impatient with our family, but it ought not to be so. In addition to being hospitable and loving to guests, we must be hospitable and loving to our family. It starts at home.
And it starts with a welcome.
Preacher Man works from home. He leaves for Bible studies during the week, but his schedule changes so often that it is not always predictable. I have often read the advice that a wife should prepare to greet her husband when he comes home by freshening up, making the environment peaceful for him, and by welcoming him with a kiss. I think it is wonderful advice, but it doesn't work very well for the life we live. And really, that is ok. I adopt that practice for the occasional out of town trip he takes, but finally I tried to look for what does work for us on a day to day basis. For him, it is greeting him with a cup of coffee in the morning and refilling his cup when it's empty. He says this is the sweetest thing I can do for him, and how difficult is it to bring him a cup of coffee? It is my pleasure to do this small gesture for him. I enjoy pleasing him.
I used to work with a girl who told me that she brought her fiance a cup of ice water one evening and that he thought it was so sweet of her. She was taken aback by that and said, "I hope he doesn't think I'm going to do that when we get married!" I tried to gently advise her that it would, in fact, be a good practice once they were married, but I'm not sure how successful I was in conveying my thoughts. How backwards is our world if we are bombarded with the message from girlhood that you should serve your guests a drink with love and kindness, but don't you dare serve your husband a glass of water with a loving smile?
And how about our children? Do we serve them with a smile too? I have made a habit of greeting each child as they awaken from bed or from a nap with a hug and a smile, with a cup of water and a little snack soon to follow. I want them to know that I am happy to see them and be with them. Sometimes it is annoying if their waking times out when I am in the middle of something "important". I struggle with my attitude towards these interruptions in my life. I must remind myself daily that these precious souls are more important than any thing.
Proverbs 31:26 - She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.
We sing the little song, we remember the sweet story of Jesus welcoming the little children to come into His arms.
Matthew 19:14 - but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
To quote the wisdom of Charlotte Mason, "Children are born persons." Children are little souls made in God's image. Children are a heritage and a blessing.
This is such a Christlike quality, this hospitality toward children. It is not simply a matter of being open toward our own, difficult as that often is, but it requires that we accept, encourage, and want those born of someone else, whether we are married or not, whether we have children of our own or not. The story of Christ blessing the children is not only for the nursery but for adults as well. If He could welcome the interruption of His ministry by wiggling, wonderstruck, bouncing, impertinent humanity, can we dare do less?
If we would be like Jesus, we will be welcoming to children. We will welcome children with all of their impulsiveness, annoying habits, noise, energy, interruptions, laughter, tears, rudeness, and occasional yuckiness that is inherent in being a child. Now I am NOT saying that children should not be taught manners, self control and how to clean up after themselves. Those things are very important and I start working on teaching those things from infancy. But if we really think about it, we will see that children are not miniature adults. They are works in progress. They are learning, and how can they learn unless we take the time to teach them patiently with grace and love. Being annoyed and just brushing off children does not help them learn and mature, it just enhances our own selfish feelings. This goes for the children that live with us as well as the children we encounter throughout our lives.
This is not easy for me. You may have the impression that I have a natural affection for all children, but honestly, I am easily annoyed by childish behavior. It is a challenge for me to overcome my natural feelings, but I believe that I am called upon by God to do so. This lesson is as much for me as for anyone.
How often do we as adults expect our children to do in their world what we fail to do in our own?
Help me, Lord, to remember what little attention it takes to open the eyes of youth to the glories of the world and to the Kingdom which exists.
We are on the verge of the teen years in our home. I am tempted to draw these children behind the protection of our several walls, to raise my banner of isolation-ism against this crass society. Yet my head knows this is sin... I must swing open those hinges and allow my offspring to forage and explore. I only hope that we have made them feel so welcome in these early years that they will want to hurry home and bring the friends they've discovered home as well.
Since I am still in those early years, this passage strengthens my resolve to daily invest in my children. These are the years that really, really count. These years lay the foundation for our lifelong relationship. Lord, please help me to build a strong foundation for my children.
Proverbs 14:1 - The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
What are some ways you show hospitality to those who live in your home?