Hello my lovely Reader and welcome back to the Sunday Series.
It's a gloomy September day here in Michigan. Despite the fact that it is High Noon, the skies have clouded over and the trees are somberly swaying in a dark humid breeze. I am sitting on a fluffy recliner in our basement, which happens to be outfitted with the finest fake wood panelling that the 1970's could ever have to offer, while my husband is sound asleep upstairs, exhausted from another night shift.
Today, my mood seems to be reflecting the Creation outside my window; somber, quiet, and restless. Yesterday I laid in bed much longer than I should have, only to return back to said bed for a harsh and sweaty afternoon/early evening nap. The churning emotions in my heart and mind seem to have exhausted me this week, and now all I am left with is heavy eyelids and a tired soul.
While some people seem to be invigorated and excited by challenges and conflict (my husband is one of those strange specimens,) I have always felt wearied by them.
It is tiresome to me, to have to deal with slander, drama, conflict, and lies. It is just so tiresome. Nothing about conflict invigorates me to jump to action; rather I find myself slipping away to a deeper and heavier sleep each time I close my eyes. Sleep has always been my chosen reprieve and vice in times of trouble, for it is only in sleep that one can truly feel separated from the chaotic problems that tend to visit one throughout a lifetime.
Thankfully last night, the Lord took a reprieve on my weary soul, and brought into my life a heavenly distraction from my exhaustion that did not involve a trip to dreamland; a Japanese reality show on Netflix called Terrace House.
Now, the Lord definitely works in mysterious ways, and I do believe that He can use anything for His advantage-- even reality TV. Last night, as I was watching the show, I seemed to forget about my own stress for the first time in days.
The show centers around six individuals, three women and three men, who are put together as strangers, set to live with one another for a long period of time. There is no script, and they are given no rules. Throughout the show, they go on dates, share meals, and in general, get to know one another, while the viewer sits in rapt attention, waiting for couples to fall in love, arguments to surface, and well.. life to happen.
Now, I am not familiar with Japanese culture, but I have been highly enjoying this show. From the first moment that they arrived, the individuals in the house have shown a level of formality, sensibility, and courtesy towards one another that really strikes me as admirable. They wait patiently for one another to join them for meals, they casually discuss their lives, and whenever someone comes home, each person calls out a greeting of "welcome home." Even when someone had a high fever, he called out "welcome home" to the person who was bringing him medicine.
That phrase, written out in subtitles at the bottom of the screen has struck me.
I honestly cannot think of a more inviting, pleasant, and kind way to be greeted by friends or strangers: "welcome home."
The greeting warms something in my heart, and it reminds me of the fact that one of the greatest things we can do in life is to make others feel welcome; to make them feel that they are home. Because home is truly a good place to be. Home is supposed to be safe, warm, comforting, and a place where you can be yourself. Healthy homes are as much a blessing as unhealthy or abusive homes are a curse.
Even as I write this, my dog has come over to lean on my feet and demand pets.... and I am now typing this with one hand as the other one strokes her fur LOL. But thinking of my dog, I realize that with every fibre of her wagging tail, she greets me with the phrase "welcome home" when I arrive home, or even when I wake up in the morning, or when I get out of the shower. She is always happy to see me, and it always makes me feel comforted and pleasant.
The idea of feeling comforted, safe, and pleasant is truly a positive thought as I sit here, exhausted from this past week. It makes me want to reach out, and to make other people feel safe, pleasant, and nurtured.
Christ commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. And to really think about it, I think the best way anyone could love me would be to show me that I am welcome. To make me feel safe, considered, and valued, despite our potential differences. And because this is how I would want to be loved, I know that I must do this forever. I think that is a worthy and strong calling as Christians, or just as people or women in general; to set out to make people feel welcome.
I want to give a proverbial "welcome home" to everyone I encounter, online or in real life. I want people to feel safe, welcomed, and nurtured in my presence. I want them to feel comfortable and pleasant, and to know that they can be themselves, free of judgement.
There is power in making others feel welcome, and there is power in casting out a net of safety, love, and consideration around those in your life. I believe though, that that net of love should not only be reserved for those who are similar to us, but also to those who are different, or even those who hate us.
Now I am not encouraging a foolish walk into abuse, condemnation, or pain at the hands of an enemy or adversary, but I am encouraging a non-conditional approach to life, where we can allow people to have their opinions without insulting them. To extend to them the grace and courtesy that we are ourselves desire, and to essentially, welcome them home.
I believe that we should not strike out at those who strike out at us, and that we should allow others to make a fuss if they desire, while we remain nonplussed and focused on the mission of loving others.
The wonderful thing about the mission of welcoming others "home" is that it can be done in a variety of circumstances and a variety of ways. We can do it in a literal sense by preparing our home and hearts for the return of a loved one, but we can also do this by preparing our hearts for the return of Christ Jesus. We can make others feel welcome at work, school, or even in our communities. A welcoming spirit can be present in the darkest of situations or the most complicated of times.
Today I encourage you to pursue relationships and people who make you feel welcome, and to extend a warm heart of welcoming hospitality to those around you. This does not mean you need to agree with everyone in your life, but it does mean showing an amount of courtesy, respect, and consideration to everyone.
May we love others today, and continue to pursue welcoming environments where we can blossom and thrive.
Blessings to you my love, and remember, here on this blog and in my heart, I am always saying to you, "welcome home."