In an attempt to create a hospitality experience more resembling real life, our family began a practice customarily known around our home as 'Bed and Breakfast'. Instead of the clean your house, lecture your kids and hold-your-breath-for-three-hours method, it involved inviting an entire family over on a Friday to spend the night. Even folks in town, who lived close-by would come spend a few days with us. Unconventional, yes, but a small step in the right direction.
This plan, while much more involved, allowed us to get to know (much better) another family in a variety of different stages. We had the Friday night kick-back-after-a-long-week nervous entering into conversation. Then the Friday night the-kids-are-up-way-past-bedtime meltdowns, mutually witnessed and mutually experienced. 'Look, honey, their kids throw fits, too.'
With sleeping children there was the sleep-deprived giggling honesty as we relaxed in each others' company. The this-is-where-I-am-with-the-Lord sharing, led to an intimacy and friendship as the hours slipped by.
The next morning's coffee and Morning Hair, making breakfast for a crowd with billions of children underfoot was a comedy of errors. We could see what these families were truly like in a casual setting. And they could see us.
This was an attempt at hospitality, but it was also feeding a need to be known, truly known, and to experience community with other believers. After lunch and naps, we went back to our respective private lives. During the analyzing that Mr. Visionary and I frequently engaged in after such a weekend, we came to unsettling conclusions.
The house did not start out perfect anymore than it ended that way. A quick reminder to the children to share took the place of the lengthy lecture of olden days. The show was over. While this was far better than the previous model of hospitality, it still fell short. Yes, we could say that we knew these families better now. Yes, we did fellowship as a family-no shipping the kids to a back bedroom to play so we could chat, telling lies to each other about how wonderful our lives are. Yes, we related our true experiences with the Lord and grew together.
But we couldn't get past that whispered sense that something was missing. We still had that sinking feeling that we had just wasted a weekend, sitting around talking away perfectly good days...
Surely there were times when the severity of a situation warranted dropping everything and just talking through issues... but was it the norm?
To see where this all started, you may click on Stage One here.
To see what happened next, click on Stage Three here.