Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
// Anna Boehk //
Like everyone, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands recently. At first, in the beginning, I was relieved. I’ve had To Do’s a mile long and never felt like I was making headway on that list. Now, when not only was I required to stay home but also when all of the things that would normally demand my attention such as car maintenance, appointments, visits, obligatory events were canceled, I relished the opportunity to clean.
Hospitality has always been my thing. I keep my pantry stocked – overly so depending on who you ask – so that I can pop something in the oven if someone lets me know they’re coming over. If they don’t give me any warning at all, there’s always a bottle of wine, which needs no cooking whatsoever. We keep four or five different kinds of water stocked at all times, and don’t get me started on the number of appliances just for making coffee.
I grew up no more than 10 minutes from a bustling airport. My parents frequently hosted and shuttled travelers for decades of my life – friends just needing to park somewhere for free and catch a ride, family coming in for a holiday, or friends of friends of friends with a canceled flight or overly long layover. Having moved out of my parents’ home and into my own has not changed that about my life – if you end up within 50 miles of me, you can expect me to work something out for you.
But it isn’t enough to be thoughtful. It’s about being forethoughtful, too.
And yes – I did double check to ensure that forethoughtful is a word, so to put it in layman’s terms, it’s about being actionary rather than reactionary. The preparation. The providence. For me, hospitality is not solely about the actual act of hosting people, though I do love the sound of clinking dishes and laughter. What it comes down to is that I really love to prepare myself and my home for any potential guests, whether they’re planned or scheduled or not. What it comes down to is that I never want to be caught off-guard by a guest. I want to be at all times a safe place to land. In preparing, in forethought, in providing, I am making myself dependable and a sturdy shelter.
So when I was given my bounty of free time, I got right to work with cleaning and rearranging and planting. I stocked up the pantry – and the wine cellar – and I purchased new things, and I was ready. I even rotated my mattresses last week, because I had the free time to do it.
And that brings me to the crux of my entire essay. Because while I vacuum my house once a day – I can’t stand cobwebs, cat fur, or stray crumbs marring my hardwood – ask me the last time I swept out my heart to prepare for the dwelling of Christ. This inability to worship in community or access the sacraments has made me dusty and empty.
And that’s a shame.
There is nothing wrong with pouring time, money, or energy into making your house a home for all who visit. But I too often forget that fresh towels don’t matter to Jesus. And if I make myself a safe space for my guests but I don’t make myself a safe space for Christ to stay and live within me, I am failing as a Christian. It’s not enough to do good. I need to radically transform my heart.
With all of this free time we’ve been given, we absolutely should check off the Honey Do’s.
Clean your homes – but your most urgent To Do is to clean your heart. Confession is a powerful thing, and if you don’t have access to that, prayer works quite well, too.
Decorate your homes with fresh flowers and seasonal tea towels – but your most urgent To Do is to decorate your heart with the virtues and fruits that Christ wants to grow in you.
Stock up your pantry, please, and then invite me over when all this is over – but take stock in your heart. Are you a safe home for Jesus? Is your heart ready to host Him as a guest?
During Advent, we wait urgently for Jesus to come to us. My favorite and also my least favorite Advent hymn is People Look East, in which the first verse commands us to “make [our houses] fair as [we] are able, trim the hearth and set the table…and sing today: Love, the Guest, is on the way.”
If I haven’t made my point in song, I’ll end with this. I know it can be hard when your normal is disrupted – but when has disruption ever stopped you from hosting a last minute guest? Advent is over. Jesus is here. Love, the Guest, is here. Have you made your house ready for Him?