In the world of influencers, it feels like we need to be doing big things to make a difference. Yet, as I ponder the people who had the most significant impact on my life, they were all ordinary people who took an interest in me. So I think it’s time that we consider that, maybe, to make a difference, we need to think smaller.
One of the things I see most often as a pastor’s wife is that so many people are lonely. So many of us are starved for close friendships and authentic community. We want to be known and loved for who we are; many of us don’t know how to find that. This loneliness has intensified in the past few years when we spent so much time in isolation.
A while back, I wrote a post about how desperately we all need somewhere to fit. We all need to find our “people.” While I can’t be best friends with everyone, I want to help be part of the solution.
————————>>> Related post: We Need Cliques in the Church
From now on, Messy Joyful Journey is going in a little bit different direction. While the blog is still all about relationships, I’m now going to focus more on trying to solve this loneliness problem. By practicing hospitality, we can welcome strangers, get to know more deeply the friends we already have, meet the needs of others, and become the community we all desire.
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Make a Difference Simply by Showing you Care
One of the people who positively impacted my life was a woman named Brenda. She is the mother of the kids I babysat when I was first married. We had recently moved across the country away from family, and I was trying to figure out how to be a wife after leaving the only life I had known for twenty-seven years.
When I would show up to babysit, this remarkable woman would make me tea and ask about my life. She brought me into her family and made me feel valued. I watched how she and her husband interacted, parented their children, and responded in stressful times. I learned so much from being included in her family.
To this day, I consider her a valued friend and mentor, and I think many of my ideas about marriage and parenting come from her and her husband, as they simply lived out their Christian faith.
Make a Difference by Bringing People Into Your Home and Life
Brenda didn’t have to make elaborate meals or always have an immaculate house. In fact, I am thankful that she didn’t. She allowed me into the chaos of her real life, and I learned so much from her. She isn’t perfect, but she is an excellent example of someone striving to live out the gospel.
I watched as she and her husband handled conflict in healthy ways.
Participating in their children’s creativity because of the literature they read aloud as a family significantly impacted my view of education.
Furthermore, I witnessed how they parent their children with grace. I, too, was shown grace when I burnt a meal and couldn’t figure out how to get all the gunk off the pan. (That was embarrassing, and I still feel terrible… that pan will never be the same… Sorry, Brenda)!
Make a Difference by Being Real
Much of the way I parent today comes from what I saw in their family. Something as silly as observing what it was like to have small children in the house while preparing for a vacation was essential for me to witness. I will never forget the piles of laundry as she was packing for each of the kids for a week. That memory comes to mind when I tear my house apart to pack for a trip. She will never know how much of an impact the little things in her day-to-day living had on me. That was real life!
Brenda invited me, a stranger, into her life as she lived out her faith. I am forever grateful for that; I am a better person because of it.
What is Hospitality
When I speak of hospitality, I don’t mean just being a great hostess (although, if you are someone who is a great hostess, by all means, incorporate that). No, I mean making people feel welcome when I speak of hospitality. Treating strangers and friends alike and viewing everyone as an image bearer of God is how we live out hospitality.
This world is currently very “Us versus Them.” It is easy to feel that way when you don’t have a genuine relationship with “Them.” But, “Them” is not the enemy…And even if they are, God calls us to love our enemies.
One of the benefits of being a pastor’s wife is that I am forced to get to know people I might not have chosen to get to know otherwise. There are so many people I now adore. It’s because I don’t just see a superficial version of them but got to know a bit about their life and who they are. Once I learn about their life… maybe their struggles, past, or passions, I can better understand why they see the world the way they do. I can also learn from their experiences. What a blessing!
Practice Simple Hospitality to Make a Difference
I think if we start small, we truly can make a difference in the world one person at a time. Invite someone to coffee (if you are in Utah like me, soda might be a better idea) or into your home for a meal. Sit around a table and get to know the people around you.
What Can We Do?
Think of some people who you would like to know better. This could be a friend, acquaintance, or neighbor you have only said hello to… or maybe the babysitter. You never know what a difference you will make. Make a plan to have them over for a glass of lemonade, tea, or a meal. If you need an idea of what to make, I have an easy Salad bar idea. You can get the recipe here:
I will share recipes to take to a person in need and ideas to feed a crowd. I’m always open to new things to try if you have any suggestions.
Please join me in reaching out to one new person this week to get to know them.
Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite easy meals for feeding a crowd or another way we can make a difference today!