Day 5: Put Yourself Out There - Hospitality for the Holiday Season

Day 5: Put Yourself Out There

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

A few years ago, I polled my online friends. “How many times a week do you eat with someone that is not living in your home?” The overwhelming answer was 0-1 times per week.

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe the answer was so low. I began to probe the “why” behind these answers. The top three responses broke my heart: 1) I’m too busy, 2) It’s expensive to eat out, and 3) I would love to eat with others more, but I don’t have anyone to invite over or anyone that invites me.

We talked about the first response on day one. And I hope that day two’s reflection challenges the assumptions behind the second response, that eating with others requires going out to a restaurant. But response number three is one we need to sit with for a while.

Have you ever been in a place where it felt like you had no friends? Perhaps you tried to convince yourself that you were okay alone—“I’m an introvert, so I need time on my own anyways,” you might have said to appease yourself.

Around the holidays, feelings of loneliness and isolation become even more apparent. Maybe you feel the full weight of longing for community this year.

First, I want to let you know that you are not alone. There are so many people experiencing deep loneliness, longing for community right now too. Your loneliness is not abnormal. It’s a sign that God created you for community, and when that God-given need is not fulfilled, the pain is very real.

Knowing that others experience a similar loneliness, could yours serve as an invitation to step out of your comfort zone and invite someone into your home? Maybe you are single and you really click with one of the young moms at church, but you’ve never asked her to hang out because she always seems flustered. There’s no way she’d have time for me! you think.

I would venture to guess that she is actually longing for uninterrupted adult conversation. It might be that an invitation to come for tea after the kids are in bed is exactly what she needs.

Maybe you are that young mom. Although you are surrounded by people all day long, you feel isolated—ready for a conversation about anything other than Paw Patrol or toy cars. You crave the wisdom of a woman who has gone through this before, but you don’t want to invite her to dinner…she’s already gone through the toddler phase, who would willingly step back into that craziness?

I would venture to guess that the flurry of little voices is actually exactly what she longs for, her own kids and grandkids spread across the country coming home only for Christmas.

One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year I couldn’t make it home to be with my family. I was in graduate school, living in a 500 square foot apartment with a dining table that took up almost the entire living room. I invited a few other grad students over to share a feast in my home.

A woman I’d met on Twitter had just moved to town with her husband and two kids. She and I had gone to coffee once while she was house hunting, but I’d never met the rest of the family. A few days before Thanksgiving, I learned that they didn’t have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with, so I invited them to join the feast.

The whole group hardly fit in my home, let alone at the dinner table. But the food was delicious and the conversation was full of laughter. That family became some of my closest friends in town, hosting me countless times at their own (much bigger) dining table once they were settled in.

Kitchen Tip: Choose one meal a week that you will try to make a consistent “meal with friends.” Maybe you know loneliness strikes hardest on Thursday evenings or on Saturday mornings. Plan to invite someone over every week for that meal. It might be that you enter a rhythm with the same friend, sharing brunch together in each other’s home every weekend. Creating a rhythm is a great way to ease the pressure of putting yourself out there and connecting with new friends.

From the Book: