I recently hosted my friend and her little girl overnight while they needed a place to stay. In reality, though, my whole community hosted her through how they equipped me:
- My friends Emily and Austin gave me the bed she slept in
- My friend Lauren gave me the recipe for the Chicken Pot Pie that was in the fridge
- My friend Kristin helped me assemble the dresser in my room
- My friend Megan gave her the car she used to drive to my house
- My roommates Lisa and Cierra helped clean the house
- My friend Sarah gave me my bedside lamp
- My landlords Andy and Kristi provide a great, safe, and well-maintained house for us
- My friends Garrett and Mindy sparked the vision for where I live
- A group of friends from church helped me move into this house last year
In other words:
I can welcome her because I have been welcomed.
I can love because I have been loved.
I can give because much has been given to me.
Or, in the words of scripture, “We love because [God] first loved us.”
I am the result of communities of people who have surrounded me with love, who have chosen to serve me in both tangible and intangible ways, who have shaped my heart and my mind. They have carried hope for me and held onto joy for me and walked alongside me too.
My life is a gift – how can I keep giving it away? “Freely you have received,” Jesus said. “Freely give.”
It’s not just my home to whom this concept applies: it’s my job, my education, my health, my faith, and every part of me. Teachers, mentors, bosses, and leaders have paved the way ahead for me over and over again and created a smooth path on which I can walk. I can look ahead to the ones in front of me and follow in their footsteps. I can look behind to those coming up, doing my best to create a smooth path for them too.
If I am ever tempted to think success is of my own making, I want to remember the time my friend stayed, and how a dozen people made it possible. One small act of kindness was only the result of a preceding dozen acts.
If you were to take an inventory of your life, I imagine you would find something similar: that you are where you are because of a host of people who cared, who gave, who served. Hallelujah.
God, would you please teach me to live with open hands? I want to live from a posture of generosity and not scarcity, hospitality and not withdrawal. I want to give, trusting you to provide. I want to walk in gratitude, seeing my life as a gift. Thank you for all you have given to me.