We’ve just pulled off the interstate. Two streets away and my heart is pounding. Five days of welled-up anxiety from the cross country road trip mingled with my fear of feeling unwelcome and unknown by the family I would spend the next 10 months living with. We rounded the corner leading to my new home and put the car in park. I let out a deep breath, looked at my dad, and opened the car door. Would I get along with their kids? Would their living style be far different than my own? Would they resent me for joining family meals and other activities? Would I like the food they made for dinner? All of these questions swirled in my mind as I closed the passenger door and moved to the trunk where all of my belongings waited to be moved in. Then I hear a door open. Two, young girls come running out the door with huge smiles on their face. In the doorway is the friendliest, most welcoming face I have ever seen. We greeted each other with handshakes and conversation ensued. I felt at ease in their presence and a familiar sense of home rushed in.
Almost two months later and I’m convinced I am living among some of the most amazing people I will ever meet. I’m not even quite sure what I was even worried about in the first place!
They have taken me in as a sixth child to their five and treated me with respect and lovingkindness. As I’ve gotten to know each of them more deeply, I see crazy cool similarities between us that I can only credit to God. With commonalities ranging from family origins to household routines, I feel right at home.
At New Song the past few weeks we have been discussing our core values as a church. Today we talked about the importance of initiating grace. Our Pastor lead us through Mark 5 and Jesus’ encounter with the demon possessed man, noting the aspects of the account that might have inhibited us from showing true grace in our own personal hard situations. The main points taken from Mark 5 were that sometimes grace goes where we don’t want to go, grace costs more that we want to pay, and that grace changes things we didn’t think could. He left us with the question of whether or not we were initiating grace after having received it ourselves. If we were sacrificing time, money, and preconceptions to extend a small amount of the grace that Jesus has given us.
My host family has gone above and beyond the expectations provided by our directors. Their hospitality is what has made this transition much easier and has allowed me to focus on developing relationships with my coworkers and the other fellows, knowing I can come home to a welcoming family. As I’ve gotten to know my host family, I’ve gotten to know what true grace looks like. They didn’t just take me in and wait for me to leave the comfort of my room to interact with them. Instead, they invited me into the most intimate parts of their family routine. I have the privilege of joining them for dinner every night if I’m home and participating in tea and devotion time after dinner. Meal times are precious family times. And reading scripture and sharing prayers aloud is inviting me in to see their vulnerabilities and also what they hold most dear. This is the truest example of initiating grace I have ever experienced.
Through this experience of living with a host family and doing life with them so far, I have seen the greatest display of compassion and the totality of God’s faithfulness rendered in our obedience. Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of loving, listening, pure community.
SLF Class of 17-18