Once upon a time (true story) there lived a woman and her old husband. The childless couple got along royally, even though she'd put her dreams of motherhood to rest long ago.
One day, as she loved to do, she caught a stranger passing their home and invited him for food. He refused. She persisted.
Now this stranger wasn't used to giving in, especially to stubborn housewives. But this woman was tough too. She forced him to sit and eat.
And when he tasted her bread, he relaxed. The woman could cook.
After a few visits from the stranger, the woman got an inkling of something and passed it on to her husband. This stranger wasn't like other passersby. He was a religious man, and a holy one at that.
She was impressed, because in their land lived many bogus "men of God." To meet a truly holy one was an event. And here this man who'd eaten in her own home turned out to be one of those rare holy men of God!
Now she turned her persuasion powers on her husband. Could they please make a little apartment for this holy man of God? A place for him to have whenever he passed that way that could be private and relaxing after all the dusty roads?
Her aged husband knew her. He trusted her judgment. The apartment was made.
And the story of her hospitality thrills me with how it turns out. It also makes me cringe at how unhospitable I am.
If you’ve read this blog a few times, you may have picked up on the one thing I’m so ashamed to admit but even more ashamed to hide from you: I struggle. Sorry. I’m trying to spit the words out. I struggle with. Clutter.
Breathe. Breathe, Bekah.
Why is this such a big deal?
Because I can’t help you if you think I’m something I’m not, because the truth will come out eventually. I’d rather you know up front that I’m not writing and podcasting because I’m perfect, but because I am desperate to get wisdom and I have this gnawing hunger to share what I learn.
And I have to tell you about my friend.
This girl is brilliant. She graduated with high honors with a business degree, but when God directed her to focus her energies on her husband and her home rather than a career in a cubicle, she swallowed her pride and obeyed.
I’ve been to her home. It is art. I’m telling you, art.
Beautiful landscaping greets you. A quiet entryway. A kitchen that’s warm and stacked with home canned goods. Every inch of the waxed antique hardwood is spotless.
Her kids are cheerful and obedient. Even the cat is agreeable.
She’d be the first to roll her eyes and tell you she struggles too, but walking through her house made me tremble at my misplaced priorities. Seriously, just walking through her gardens thick with tomatoes made me feel like a drunken sinner stumbling into revival invitation.
I don’t know if she’ll read this article. She’s not on Facebook.
She has made choices that separate her from everything her culture says is important.
She’s chosen to listen to her God and her husband and enjoy her life in peace and quiet. And her guests are the happy beneficiaries of her sacrifice as they carry home a quart jar of muscadine jelly.
While I bite my fingernails because nobody commented on my Facebook posts.
Okay, so I know we’re not to compare. But seeing someone who’s made hard choices, choices to walk away from prestige and popularity and embrace a simple life full of monotony and work, simply to serve those God’s called her to love, humbles me and makes me examine my own life.
It makes me a better wife. A better mother. Hopefully, a better friend.
And in the process, I find my heart is changing. My emotions settle. Logic rises like cream, and problems start unraveling before my eyes.
It reminds me of the Shunammite woman, who jumped at the chance to build an extra room on the house to show hospitality to the holy man of God that passed by occasionally. When her little miracle boy died, she had the presence of mind to calmly saddle up and tell her husband, “It shall be well.”
There’s something about eager hospitality, in subjection to one’s authority, that settles the nerves.
In the last post, we considered Lot’s wife and how her failure to stay visible to her authority may have made it easier to succumb to her wild emotions. She stands today as a salty sentinel to all future women who’d go against clear commands because they “couldn’t help themselves.”
The Shunammite was completely in control of her emotions, and she was determined to serve.
That’s how I want to be. A serving woman who stays visible to my husband.
Boring? I think a better word is “fulfilled” as I see a friend pull in the driveway and I don’t hyperventilate or break something hiding clutter.
No, I’m not there yet. But I’m going ahead and sharing this with you so maybe we can both examine our priorities together.
Do you have a friend who’s made you a better person? How did they do it?