Real-Life Relationships and Hospitality

I’ve been “taken in” by friends a few times in my life. This has ranged from moving into a friend’s basement for 2 weeks between gaps in apartment leases to my campus minister allowing me to be in her home regularly. In each extreme, I was able to better observe what “real life” in my friends’ lives looked like. My campus minister walked through the single, dating, and engaged phases in a 3-year span in my life. I learned more about how to conduct myself in each of those stages because of my time with her. My friend who lent out her basement also opened her home. I was engaged at the time and got a glimpse of what life as a wife, mother, and full-time employee looked like. In each situation, I was inspired to walk into the next phase of my life with more grace and understanding than when I started.

If we, as believers, are meant to spread the gospel in everything we do, that must extend to hospitality as well. How? By building relationships with people. Of course, that’s added pressure on us. But even if someone is around and we mess up, we are given the opportunity for reconciliation, which can be as much a lesson about God’s grace in our lives as never failing in the first place.

My husband and I try to regularly have people in our home. If possible, we host repeat guests so we can build on the relationship that is formed. It allows us to know our guests better and determine how we can serve them. Our relationship with 1 couple from our church is an example. As we’ve spent more time together, we’ve gotten to know them better. Turns out when you’re pregnant and have 2 boys, aged 5 and 2, life is hard. Because of the relationship we’ve developed, I’m able to gauge what these friends need. “Is your husband going to be out of town? Let me take 1 of the boys off your hands for a few hours or bring you dinner so you don’t have to attempt grocery shopping.” I know to offer care only because we’ve taken the time to get to know them. Hospitality is really all about relationship.

​Ryann Mitchell lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband and 1-year-old daughter. She works in adult education and serves as the children’s minister at her church.

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