We Can’t Go Back to Our Childhoods–But Maybe That’s a Good Thing

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“I wish we could be 10-years old again–back when we played as little princesses and life was simple and easy.” My friend sighed wistfully as she said it, and my heart echoed the sentiment. We were discussing the myriad of different challenges and choices in life, and she was a little overwhelmed by it all.

Haven’t we all felt the same at some point? There was a time long ago when we were young, when everything was beautiful. We were sure everything would be simple and easy; we were convinced everything would work out alright. But we’re grown now, and we’re not quite so sure anymore.

Because as life went on, it also became harder. Dreams have died. Loved ones have been ripped away too early. We’ve stumbled and fallen. Life is no longer full of play and enjoyment; there are decisions to be made–big, life-altering ones–and we’ve known failure enough to fear its coming again. We’ve let love in, only to let it wound us, and are left wondering if we’ll ever find it at all. We’ve lost friendships and trust, and wonder if in a way we’ve also lost us.

Because we’re not those happy little children anymore. Growing up is hard, and we bear the evidence that we’ve learned that through experience. Our toy crowns are long gone, our shoes are scuffed and scraped, and our eyes have seen some tears. And sometimes we wish it all away, that none of this had ever happened, and that we could go back to being those children again.

But maybe it’s a better thing, to be more than merely innocent.

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4 Things To Remember When Your Spiritual Life Stalls

4 things to remember when your spiritual life stalls

I’d love to travel on a sailboat. To hang out over the railing, the wind whipping the rigging, flying fast and free over the foamy blue. Sun, salt, and sea-spray lightening the red of my hair, utterly unbridled joy and excitement. This water-daughter has lived most her life by the sea, and would love to sail upon it, to reach glorious lands yet unknown (at least to me).

And in a way, that’s what I’d like my spiritual journey to be like too. To fly along blown by God’s Spirit, utter and complete joy in everything, each day bringing a new cresting wave of truth and knowledge.

But sometimes the wind stops. The sails droop. And you’re caught in the doldrums—the place feared by sailors of old, where the wind disappears for days, even weeks, and only oars can take you anywhere. It’s a stifling hot still, where everything is numb and the same. You can row and row, but each pull is agonizingly hard and there’s not a glimmer of change on the horizon.

And sometimes, we can get into spiritual doldrums too. Bible reading just doesn’t excite us as it did anymore. You don’t feel overwhelmed by God’s greatness in worship. Prayer seems like a chore, not a privilege. The wind of excitement seems to have completely disappeared, and you’re wondering what happened. You keep rowing, keep on going, but there seems to be no change, and you’re tempted to throw the oars overboard in defeat.

But there’s some things we need to remember when we get caught in the doldrums of life.

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Hospitality When You Don’t Have Your Own House

hospitality when you don't have your own house

None of us are strangers to feeling outside.

I’m a military daughter, I’ve moved from one coast of the country to another; so I know what it’s like to walk into a room full of pre-existing circles—circles that you aren’t in. Alienation isn’t a new experience for any of us, nor an unusual one, but there is one experience I’ve had that I think encapsulates it.

It was a large Christian event, held at a lovely venue with bright windows, benches in each, and open hallways large enough for chatting to the side, while able to hail friends passing by. Perfect for socializing, and that’s exactly what everyone was doing. A buzz of laughter and chatter filled the room, as stories were swapped.

Yet I stood quietly in the midst of it. I offered an open smile to those passing by, which they returned, but didn’t stop to discuss the trade. It reminded me of standing in the midst of Chinese traffic, everyone driving and weaving about in a frantic dance that somehow they all knew the tune to, except you. Everyone knew everyone else, everyone wanted to see everyone else, everyone had their own circles–and I was standing outside of them.

Now none of those people were doing anything wrong, and I don’t begrudge them for it. It’s good to have your own friends, and special friendships must in some sense be exclusive. But still, it’s hard to be the stranger in the room full of friends.

The Heart of Hospitality

Hospitality has become a popular discussion in Christian circles, from multitudes of articles on Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition, to Rosaria Butterfield’s book on it, The Gospel Comes with A House Key making the rounds (quite deservedly). But for us young people, it can seem rather abstract or out-of-reach.

After all, we don’t own our own house, our schedules are rarely our own, and a college student’s budget can barely handle feeding one, let alone others. The full house and fresh bread of hospitality seem unattainable for us. But perhaps we’re confusing certain results for the real thing. Perhaps we’re equating an outpouring for the heart. Perhaps hospitality is more about how we live than how many people come into our living room.

The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenos, comes from the words both for friend and for stranger. Pulling those two in, and making them one. In a sense, it means to draw in, to take those who are outside the circle, and including them.

The Hospitality of the Gospel

Isn’t this at the very heart of the Gospel? Before, we were aliens and strangers. But now he has brought us “nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12,13). Christ took those who were different, and reconciled them together. We were standing out in the dark and the cold, but he threw open the door, welcoming us. He prepared a place for us at his table, gently took off our heavy loads, and crouched down to wash our feet.

When I think of hospitality, I’m often reminded of that iconic retro Thanksgiving photo, where the whole family is gathered around the table, eagerly watching the father carve the turkey and passing it down the table. And maybe that’s what the heart of Christian hospitality looks like. The whole family of God, gathered around the table together. Different ages, different races, yet one thing is the same, we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus. And in that, we beckon others to come join us at the heavenly table, even if we don’t have our own.

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