Yesterday morning, before a three hour afternoon of summer planning with five people and our nine children and a two hour dinner with thirty people in my house, I made the coffee and helped unload the trailer at the church with more people. I then made a mad dash across the railroad tracks to pick up people for service and upon returning, I had a moment of brazen humanity in the middle of the children’s ministry room.

“I don’t like people today,” I said to a friend. “I don’t want anyone else to talk to me or touch me or sit in my personal space. I don’t want to hear one more hardship or one more need or have one more person ask me for anything. I’m a dead woman walking. Look at me. I haven’t been alone for five minutes in three weeks and I have absolutely nothing else to say or one more thing to give.”

She looked at me, sorta wild-eyed and I couldn’t blame her. What could she say to the pastor’s wife, with three tables in the front yard, whose entire life’s message is Love Your Neighbor? 

But I meant every word of what I’d said and every word that I hadn’t been brave enough to say.

I. Was. Done.

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Image courtesy @loribrownharris1 on instagram.

I’ve had more people in my house in the last seven days than I have in the last month and this morning, I am so tired I could cry. It’s not the physical exhaustion that’s got me so whipped, it’s the emotional and spiritual weight of rubbing up close to human beings that’s got me wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep off the hangover. I’ve hosted a plethora of people for afternoon snacks, early lunches, dinner, dessert, coffee and a small group. I’ve cooked food and delivered food. I’ve hosted new neighbors on my front porch. People have dropped by more times than I can count.

Even the online world has been too much for me. I’ve left Facebook messages unread for fear that someone would ask me a question or call me out on something. I’ve not returned text messages for the same reasons. I’ve avoided looking people in the eye at Target and even avoided the principal at our elementary school because I know she wants to me help start a PTA in the fall. I can’t write because my brain feels like a muddled pile of broken people with broken lives living in a broken world.

So many words over so many days and my soul is craving a permanent escape.

It’s craving an escape because I’ve said yes to every single person needing my time or my home to the extent that my body hasn’t slowed down enough to give my soul time to get away with Jesus for more than a minute.

Without Jesus, my hospitality, even if well-intentioned- is little more than a transaction of food and a half-hearted attempt at being nice.

And the world doesn’t need one more shared table with one more empty person offering good food and pleasantries.

Trying to make space in our homes to introduce people to Jesus is impossible when we fail to take the time to make space for our own souls to seek Jesus first.

It only took three weeks to move me from a place of desiring to gather people around my table to a place of desiring to run and hide. Three weeks of non-stop human connection with little to no Jesus communion was enough to send my flesh into an uproar and my soul into a revolt. Three weeks without healthy boundaries had left me with zero compassion.

All I had to offer anyone was a table full of food and a steady stream of surface conversation. A mere transaction over a few hours.

But hospitality isn’t a transaction. It is recognizing the imago Dei in another person and entering into a place of vulnerability in order to make space for the Holy Spirit to move. And we quench the movement of the Holy Spirit when we fail to commune with Jesus before gathering around the table.

Image courtesy @loribrownharris1 via Instagram.

Image courtesy @loribrownharris1 via Instagram.

The paramount act of hospitality is being welcomed into the family of God through the death and burial of Jesus Christ. Jesus died to make a way for us to be welcomed into his family. He instituted the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine so that every time we gathered around our tables to share a meal, we would remember and celebrate His body and shed blood.

We cannot break the tie that binds Jesus to every meal we share in our homes, but we can unravel it a bit.

We can say yes to every good thing and unknowingly reject Jesus with every yes.

We can gather people in the name of Jesus and then forsake them by never recognizing the image of God in them.

We can feed our neighbors and never make space for the Holy Spirit to join us at the table.

We can call our open door hospitality and never welcome anyone into the family of God.

Or we can choose Jesus over every good thing and pray that as we open our front door less, Jesus makes more of our less.

Lori Harris / Posts / Blog
Lori Harris is a Southern born, Texas-missing girl, who is rearing her six kids in a neighborhood some would call the ‘hood. She and her bi-vocational husband have planted Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount on the wrong side of the railroad tracks where poverty runs deep and racism even deeper. She coordinates a city-wide MOPS group, passes out PBJs to the neighborhood kids, and brews coffee just to make the house smell like Jesus. She writes at loriharris.me.
  • Kim Greene

    Yes! To all of this. Thank you as always, Lori, for saying what needs to be said with abundant grace and profound truth.

    April 20th, 2016 8:21
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      Thanks Kim! As I sat to write this post, my heart was wrecked with the prospect of writing on hospitality and so I chose to just tell the truth, right in the moment. And Jesus sorta just illuminated the beautiful truth found amid my ugly truth.

      April 20th, 2016 8:43
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  • Jenny
    http://Www.blessingsandraindrops.com

    This resonates so deeply with me, Lori! Thank you for being vulnerable and for sharing these truths.

    April 20th, 2016 9:03
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      You’re welcome, Jenny. I think it resonates it with a lot of us. Our flesh is so weak. Grateful that Jesus longs for us to come away with Him to be refueled.

      April 20th, 2016 9:07
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  • Marcy
    http://www.marcyholder.com

    💗

    April 20th, 2016 10:08
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loribrownharris@yahoo.com

      Right back atcha!

      April 20th, 2016 14:56
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  • Elizabeth

    Ugh, I TOTALLY know how you feel!! When we give, give, give, we are only giving of ourselves, and we crash and burn every time. We must always give with Jesus as our fuel source or we will never go the distance. We absolutely MUST take the time to be with him or else our giving is empty. Thanks for the reminder. I needed to read this today. And now I’m going to be with Him for just a little while….

    April 20th, 2016 16:00
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      Elizabeth! Isn’t that the truth?! If our enemy can keep us busy doing good things, we’ll forget that apart from Jesus there is nothing worth doing. <3

      April 20th, 2016 21:00
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  • Teagan Carnes
    http://whenhopeisdeferred.blogspot.com

    Oh. The cracks are where the light shines though! I struggle with this type of burnout, and I often have to remind myself that there was a reason that Christ told us to first love the Lord and then our neighbors. I spent the first couple of years in our ‘hood first focusing on loving God, knowing that loving my neighbors would be empty without it.

    April 20th, 2016 16:15
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      You are so right, Teagan. If our well is shallow, we have nothing from which to draw.

      April 20th, 2016 21:01
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  • Annie

    Girl, I feel ya on this one, only it’s my job as a pediatric nurse we’re talking about… Some days, too many days, I got NOTHING left to give, especially patience, understanding and joy. Sometimes the tasks and “have to’s” take up so much space I forget to be kind along the way. Some days when personal space is sadly lacking and I have been assaulted with every bodily kid fluid I can name, or pulled in too many directions by a million little “brushfires”, I just want to QUIT – sit down in the floor and throw a tantrum like the little ones I take care of. Whine to no one in particular, “he’s touching me!” or “zip your lip” or “quit sucking all the oxygen in here!” Then the words of Jesus come flooding in to my heart and mind, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Or “whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, than you have done unto Me.” So I think to myself, “If Lori can do it, so can I.” You inspire me, make me laugh, and feel like a “normal” human, and get up and do it all over again tomorrow. So when I think I’m cracking up, I just remember, “Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the Light!”

    April 20th, 2016 17:59
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      I love running alongside you, Annie! You make life so JOYOUS!!! You run your race and I’ll run mine and together we will preach the Gospel to ourselves, day in and day out. <3

      April 20th, 2016 21:03
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  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org

    I smell what you’re stepping in, Lori! While I have maintained my relationship with Jesus, the things that have worn me to a frazzle are multiple losses over a period of 3-4 months. Even though it happened a year ago, I am still not recovered emotionally. Social media is just too much for me. I, seriously, think my cheese would have fallen completely off my cracker if I had not had Jesus during all of that. I’m so thankful that He fills us up and holds our cheese on our cracker during those times. Wonderful post, Lori!!

    April 21st, 2016 7:16
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me

      I think it’s all the small things, piled up over time, that have kept me from seeking quiet and observing Sabbath. Family needs, church growth and neighborhood struggles have gradually taken over every free second and it wasn’t until I was able to articulate the fact that “I didn’t like people.” that Jesus was able to reveal to me why! I’m so prone to stay busy doing good things. Grateful to know I’m not alone, Leah!

      April 22nd, 2016 8:17
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