Skip ahead to June 27, 2010 - the day I got married. It never really clicked with me that all those quiet nights alone were no longer a reality. I was married, and my husband was going to live with me. In our apartment. Every night. And more importantly, he had a right to do so. This may sound silly, but it took a lot of time for me to get accustomed to having someone else there with me (side note: I had a single room in college, then moved into an apartment by myself for my first job, then bought my own house....), even though I loved him and was absolutely thrilled to be married. I would go into the other room, then get upset when John would eventually wander in. This is my space! I would think to myself. Why is he here?!
|Courtesy of icanhascheezburger.com|
Over the past year I changed so much. I've made new friends, grown (slightly) more patient, and realized how much I've missed out on by retreating into seclusion.
I began to love going out to coffee with friends.
I began to love holding their babies.
I began to love asking them for advice, and giving advice when asked.
I began to love going out on double dates.
I began to love running into people I know at Walmart and stopping for a quick chat.
And the thing is, about the time I had this massive shift in perspective, John bought this book called A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. He bought it for himself, but I ended up reading it as well. In it, Chester talks about how the ultimate witnessing tool is food. How the idea of sharing a meal together is far more intimate than we realize.
"When we invite people into our homes, we're putting ourselves on display. How will they evaluate our cooking, cleaning, decor, or parenting? Craving other people's approval or fearing their censure is what the Bible calls 'fear of man.' The Bible's antidote is the 'fear of the Lord.' When God's opinion is what matters most - the God who smiles on us in His grace - then we're liberated to serve others our of love, rather than gain their good opinion."
"We (Christians) should have a reputation for throwing the best parties."
"Jesus didn't run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus, then you'll be doing mission."
As I read all these things I realized that this newly discovered openness was not random, nor was it "me" becoming a better person. It was God telling me, Kelly, this is your mission. I need you to start sharing life with your brothers and sisters.
So I have been, and it's amazing. Just this past week John and I hosted community group at our apartment. Nothing fancy at all, just a picnic-themed potluck with a dozen or so friends from church. I was a bit nervous (especially since the electricity in our complex went out three hours before...but it eventually came back on), and I worried way too much about my cleaning/tidying abilities. But as soon as everyone arrived I thanked God for allowing us to host, and for putting this love in my heart. And I cannot wait for the next opportunity to share life with His children, my brothers and sisters.
(Here is a great review of the book from The Gospel Coalition's Justin Taylor, if you're interested...)