Visitors

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Yesterday we had such a delightful surprise in our home. It really was quite small and didn’t cost a penny, but delightful nonetheless.

We had a couple from our church who had just purchased ice cream down the street from our house decide that instead of just sitting in a parking lot eating their ice cream…they would come down and see what we were up to, just drop in and say hi.

We ended up visiting for at least an hour around our sunroom table and it was honestly quite a God moment in my family’s life. They had no way of knowing that but I recognized it and so did my kids.

My girls had been kind of struggling this week in various ways with feeling like they don’t belong. That might be a homeschooling issue…but honestly, I think it’s more a high school/teenager issue. They are really good listeners but often in a group don’t actually talk. They’re content to listen to other people have conversation, except that then once it’s done they feel like they were on the edges the whole time…because, they were, and it’s not very satisfying.

None of this is unusual, I remember feeling the same way at their age. Not wanting the pressure to have to come up with something of interest to say and yet wanting to be seen as an interesting person to be with. It’s a common feeling for many people.

So…when this couple just stopped in and we sat down and visited it was a really lovely thing to have conversation together that was unscripted, unplanned, and just see where the conversation would lead. It started out with me doing a lot of the talking from my family, but over the visit, the girls started to warm up and share some of their story, what’s been going on in their lives lately. It was kind of like watching a flower bloom all within the space of an hour or two.

This couple had no way of knowing that was going on…they just decided it was worth the effort and far more interesting to go say hi to someone they know rather than just sitting by themselves in a parking lot or a car.

Such a small thing. I often read how we’re losing face to face contact with each other because of social media, email, etc. Sometimes I discount the issue, as in, well at least I’m staying in touch with people over distance that I normally wouldn’t have any contact with. But…last night I realized that face to face contact is so, so important. It’s not the same as a quick status post and a clicked like.

We got to know so much more about this couple as we sat at the table, we talked about their high school experiences, vacations we’ve taken, house remodeling projects, youth group experiences, teeth, church, parenting, future hopes, etc. Lauren showed the fashions that she’s been putting together on Polyvore, a computer program that she likes to use. My girls and I felt like we mattered and that this couple would want to get to know us and would want us to know them better. Isn’t that a big part of what love is? Knowing and being known…I think so.

Later, I realized that Lydia could’ve spent the night with friends at the local high school football game and I apologized for not being aware of it. She said…”But mom, then I would’ve missed out on the visit from the couple that stopped in to see us.” The visit that was just meant to say hello meant that much to her that she would’ve rather been there for it than go with friends to a football game.

My conclusion is this. We have no idea the power that we hold in loving one another well. We have no idea what happens when we just drop in on people, or make some small effort to get to know them better. I know this couple had no idea that it would be a big deal to us…but it was. Most of us are fairly lonely people. The idea of hospitality has gotten thrown out the window. Most of us don’t go to each other’s houses much these days. And I could’ve freaked out because my house wasn’t really neat and clean when they came. But I didn’t even care. It was just so good to visit with people.

Most of us struggle feeling like we belong. Or that anybody notices us or cares about our life. We have this strange mix of wanting to keep to ourselves and protect ourselves and at the same time we really want somebody to care enough to ask or express concern. We want somebody to take notice of us. We’ve become so used to not being known that it’s rare when we feel known, even with people who we are around on a weekly basis for years. How well do you know people at your church? Really…

Our church has been focused this summer on forming deeper community. I’m preaching on it tomorrow. I have to say, I think the message is more relevant than ever. I don’t think it’s just teenage girls who struggle feeling connected and noticed…I think regardless of age, many of us in a group still feel lonely.

I told the girls after our visitors left…we need to do more of that kind of thing, just popping in on people, taking the risk to say hello and just seeing what might happen. We need to share not only the gospel…but our lives.

Yesterday it was ice cream and a visit in our sunroom at the table. Nothing special and yet very sacred.

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