My houseguest is gone. She came for two weeks and I asked her to stay for six months. And another six months. One year. My houseguest was more than just a houseguest. She was my friend, my daughter, my playmate and often my confidant. She had to return to The Netherlands. We are both sad.
And though I am sad she is gone – and gone so far away – I am grateful my husband and I were able to have her here for a year. She wasn’t our first long-term houseguest. We also invited a young man into our home when his father died during his final years of college and he needed a place to live so he could finish school and graduate.
The reason I was willing to host these young adults is because I had parents who set an example. We often teased my parents about how they (well, mostly my mom) took in every “stray” she found. Seriously, they offered their hospitality to the lonely, the down and the outcast. They invited them in to our home and offered safety, shelter, food and love. My parents showed them Jesus’ love.
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry
and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?
Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?
When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of
these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! Matthew 25:37-40
Now, growing up, there was the houseguest who was a really cute young man who stayed with us for several months. Thinking back, it probably wasn’t the best situation since I had a huge junior high school crush on him and he sleepwalked in his boxers. His name was Scott and he had a dog named Toker who also stayed with us. My mom loved the name of the dog until we told her it referred to a marijuana joint. I think she tried to get him to change his dog’s name.
Scott taught me about redemption and how God can change a life.
There was the houseguest who came into our home and made a huge impression on me as a young teenage girl. My bedroom flooded and so this houseguest and I shared a bed for a few nights and in the dark of the night, she shared with me her agony of aborting her baby. I’m not sure I fully grasped what an abortion was or the implications but I listened as she shared with me her heartache, shame and regret. As I lay next to this young woman and listened to her story, I had no words. I just listened to the crack in her voice as tears gently flowed while she expressed her grief.
My parents had no idea of her abortion or the fact she shared it with me. They only knew her as the young woman who needed a safe place to live for a while. Oh, and that she played the bagpipes in our backyard. Yes, a young adult woman stood in our backyard in Middle America and played the very loud bagpipes. My Dad was irritated and embarrassed but I thought was cool.
A few months later when she moved out, she got pregnant again by a young man who probably couldn’t take care of her or her baby but she wanted the baby more than anything and she was willing to choose life this time. The girl was Shannon.
Shannon taught me I didn’t want to get pregnant before I was married so I should do everything to avoid that – like waiting until marriage to have sex. (Novel idea, I know.) The haunting in her voice that dark night taught me I didn’t want to have an abortion. I knew I never wanted to have to deal with the level of shame, guilt, regret and heartache Shannon carried with her.
And there was Narissa who I shared a birthday with. She was a legit hippie who came into our home in the 70’s wearing boot-high moccasins she made herself. She drove a VW bug with all of her belongings in it, including her dog, Chien, which is French for “Dog,” Clever.
Narissa also came into our home with a bottle full of drugs. I remember my mom asking her to hand them to her. They must have been some heavy-duty drugs because every time it stormed, my mom would leave our home to check on her. The lightening caused Narissa to have horrible flashbacks. I remember being at church one Wednesday night and there was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightening. I looked at Mom and she looked at me. I nodded, knowing we had to get up and leave to check on Narissa – the hippie.
Not only did Narissa teach me not to try drugs, she also taught me how to show love to those who don’t look, live, or think like us.
Whether our houseguests are people we literally bring into our homes or just into our hearts and lives, as Christians, we should consider having houseguests.
Growing up, the people my parents offered their home to taught me many life-forming lessons. Their lives were changed. My life was changed.
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
Note: we are all God’s people. Some already know it. Some may need your love, acceptance and hospitality to realize it.
Another very important note: If you’ve had an abortion, please know there is no judgement or condemnation from me. Really, there isn’t. If you are dealing with shame or regret because of an abortion, please reach out because that is not a way to live. There is freedom in Jesus!
What about you? Have you learned from a houseguest or learned something by being a houseguest? Tell me about it. I want to hear your story.