by Emily Conrad
Last Thursday, I skimmed an email from my church. Between other announcements was a request from the local Christian school for a home to host a foreign exchange student. That’s the kind of thing other people do, not us. That’s for people who are parents. I deleted it.
On Friday, I retrieved the email from my trash folder and called the number listed with uncharacteristic bravery. With some encouragement, I’d gotten it in my head that it would be a good idea for my husband and I to take in this student, and my husband had been receptive of the idea.
With that phone call, plans were set in motion.
Over the weekend, Adam and I read some verses on hospitality that confirmed our intended course. We talked about the practical side of how things would go. We filled out the application and got the necessary references. We scheduled a time for a representative from the program to see our house.
My first thought was, “Not us.” My second thought was, “Yes!”
My third thought? “What are we doing?”
To make way for the student, I moved everything but decorations and necessities out of the bedroom.
This was surprisingly hard for me, perhaps because it was the first concrete sign that our lives are going to be different for the next seven months.
I kept both our vacuum and our filing cabinet in the closet in the guest bedroom. There are no other roomy closets on our first floor, so giving up the one in the guest room means our vacuum will have to stay on the second floor (where I use it less), and the filing cabinet will have to stay in our dining room (camouflaged under a tablecloth).
These arrangements are not my first choice, and I found myself asking, Don’t I have a right to some of the closet space?
Maybe, but even if I do, I know why I shouldn’t claim it.
We’re reading in 1 Corinthians right now, and Paul’s big on not insisting on his own rights. There’s a whole little insert in my study Bible about it based on 1 Corinthians 9. Paul wouldn’t insist on exercising his own rights when those rights would potentially cause someone else to sin.
Keeping my vacuum in the closet of the spare room probably wouldn’t do that, but I’ve stayed with a host family, and I know how awkward it can feel.
I remember my relief when my host mom showed me my room and called it my “domain.” And I remember how displaced I felt when I walked in one day and found someone watching TV in my domain.
So I know this is a time to sacrifice a minuscule little right in love. For me, the vacuum and file cabinet are really not a big deal. For the student, having uninterrupted space will be.
Besides, if going to a second-floor closet for the vacuum is too much for me, how am I going to handle the tougher aspects of the next seven months?
So, I prepared the room and completed the tour. I handed in the paperwork and listened to an experienced host mom explain more about what hosting a student would entail.
I’d be lying if I said we’re not nervous. I can see all the ways my husband and I are unprepared for this. We’re not parents and don’t have experience navigating school lunch, homework, and house rules regarding Internet use.
Things are going to be changing around here, us first and foremost, if my experience thus far is any indication.
And yet I don’t feel that God is telling me to pull the plug on this.
This temporary change of inviting someone in will result in permanent growth. The experiences of the next seven months will shape our perspectives and those of the student. My leadership skills will be tuned in a whole new—even in a needed—way. My faith will be, too—making space has already started the process. And I pray this will impact the life of a teenager in a positive way.
Focusing on all I have to gain and the potential for God to work mightily puts this leap of faith in perspective. Making room to say yes to God with our home and time and lives is absolutely worth it.
God is good. Opening our home is an act of faith, and that’s how the righteous are called to live. Instead of a spirit of fear, God has given us a spirit of love, power, and self-control, and that means he’s given us everything we need to do this. Plus, he’s given us a lot of other resources that ought to make us just the right people for this job.
So, here’s to restoring a deleted email and to saying yes to God even when it doesn’t come naturally at first. Here’s to considering that God is bigger than my shortcomings and will show himself strong in my weakness. Here’s to living in faith. Here’s to saying yes to hospitality. Here’s to trusting God in the unknown. Here’s to making room.
I would appreciate your prayers along the way!
What leap of faith can I pray for in your life?