If you are just checking in with us here, I'm going through the book Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others chapter by chapter and sharing what I'm learning as I go along.
Click here to read my thoughts on Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. We're over halfway done with this book, folks!
Chapter Six is entitled, "Hospitality and Others" and this chapter has me hoppin' with excitement! I thought this chapter ROCKED and I so wish you'd grab a copy of this book if only to read this one chapter!
For starters, they opened with the following scripture verse:
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" James 2:14-16The rest of the chapter dealt with offering hospitality to particular groups of people who have need of fellowship, and offered specific suggestions as to how you can include these groups into your service of others.
The group I'm going to
The reason I want to hone in on the singles here is because I think they are a sadly neglected lot by those who are married and who have families. This is a big problem. When I moved away from home, I moved halfway across the country. I joined a new church and not one family invited me into their homes. (It wasn't because I refused to bathe either. I wasn't altogether odious.) They just...didn't think of it! But I was alone, lonely, next-to-friendless and definitely lacked family in the area. I would have said yes to anyone who asked me over for a meal but, in fact, no one did.
Part of this, I realize, is a West Coast thing. I moved from the South to the West Coast and there is a dramatically huge difference in the extent to which people offer hospitality to others. It's a lost art on the West Coast! However, let me drive this point home:
No matter where a single person lives, they crave fellowship, community and a sense of belonging.
A smile will take them a long way. Communication can move mountains. Inviting them to be a part of your family life and home is a blessing beyond description. So DO IT! Speaking from the perspective of a former single and very lonely new-person-on-the-block, make an effort to offer them hospitality.
I loved that the authors of this book called in Nancy Leigh DeMoss to address this topic. DeMoss shares the following in this chapter:
"When singles are assimilated into families, everyone benefits. The single adult can have a strong spiritual influence on children that reinforces the training provided by their parents. Singles can meet the needs of parents, such as to have time alone without the children. Families can provide friendship and encouragement to singles. Both families and singles can offer each other mutual support, counsel, accountability, and prayer." (Chapter 6, page 167)That is so true. You don't need to be a parent in order to know how to connect with a child. In fact, some of my favorite babysitters when I was growing up were some single gals that my parents had befriended. They would come to our home to be around our family and frequently my parents had an opportunity to dash out of the house for a bit on their own. I assume that they enjoyed that freedom because I know I would enjoy the same situation now that I'M a parent!
In fact, I clearly remember two college aged girls that helped my mom host my first slumber party. I thought it was SO COOL that they came and were a part of celebrating my birthday.
My own children absolutely adore their single aunt who loves on them fiercely. They are also quite the enthusiastic fans over an adopted aunt that is a wonderful part of our lives. (In fact, we're excited that this adopted aunt is marrying an awesome guy this summer and now we'll have an adopted uncle to boot!) We are looking forward to sharing our home for a month this summer with a single friend and I know that will be a fun adventure and one that I'm very much looking forward to. We've just had fabulous experiences including singles in our life and I never want to stop doing that! I never CAN stop doing that because I remember what it was like to BE a single and to be seriously alone - away from everything I knew - and sometimes just generally lonely.
Befriend a single. Keep an eye out for them. Bless them with your GOOD fellowship. Listen to them, talk with them, and remember to make time to have FUN with them. Let them be a part of your life and I think you'll find it a delight to be a part of theirs.
With appreciation for the points Ennis and Tatlock make here...