My son has this friend who’s stayed at our house every weekend pretty much since school started. That’s about a month and a half ago. We’re talking Friday and Saturday nights. He’s been here long enough to eat all the food, dirty his fair share of towels and experience the human side of everyone in the house. Today, I felt compelled to let him know he was welcome to our house (he always seems as if he feels like an intruder on the periphery of our lives). I inscribed a book with the phrase “welcome to our family” and gave it to him as a gift. In that moment, he truly became a part of us.
A few hours later, I was lying across my bed worshiping the Lord and organizing pages worth of thoughts for another book. I heard a kid holler. They’re teenagers, so I just thought they were messing around. Not long after, I heard some more yelling and thought maybe someone has just yelled for me. Too bad, I’m busy …
Then my son rushed in my room looking really disgusted and bewildered. “I just yelled for you several times. I need you! Blake just threw up all over the bathroom!”
I know you’re probably thinking, “Big deal, I’ve dealt with projectile vomiting before.” But friend, we’re not talking about tiny newborn tummies. We’re talking teenage boy who eats like a … teenage boy. There’s no comparison to the amount of food a teenage boy can consume in one sitting. They’re beasts!
I will spare you most of the details, but suffice to say it was up the walls, the door, in every crevice from the door to the bathtub … I seriously thought about just burning the house down and starting over. My flat iron had been knocked in the floor and left. It was a colossal mess and I was the only person in the house capable of dealing with it.
As I knelt on a floor that still needed to be mopped and stretched across the bathroom floor to the far reaches of the linoleum, I thought about the phrase “welcome to the family.” I had just taken this kid in in my heart. I had accepted him as he is and not as I want him to be. I had just given him the gift of love he didn’t have to earn. His sudden illness was not something I foresaw having to deal with today. It occurred to me that there’s a part of allowing others to be human that really tries us. It’s hard to embrace the messy parts of other people. That’s when the rubber meets the road. Do we really love people, or are we just loving the convenient and put together side of them? Can we stick by them when their humanness shows and we see them in their worst moments?
I was really grateful that I had spent the two previous hours in worship because I met this in something other than my flesh. The Holy Spirit was my strength in that moment. I did have to talk myself through the cleaning process, but thankfully, I did not respond to this event in the flesh. This kid had seen enough of our flesh in my home and I was grateful that God helped me serve his need in grace as I cleaned up the mess he had made.
It really does take the power of the Holy Spirit to meet people in their darkest moments and still stand by them and love them through it. In my flesh, I might have despaired over the ruined flat iron or the stains on the bathroom door. I might have even said things I wouldn’t normally say, or display some anger or resentment at the disruption to my beautiful, quiet afternoon. But I had spent time with God beforehand and He had prepared me to handle the situation with grace and love. I love how He does that. Goes before us.
I pray God continues to pour this grace into me. You too. There are people who come into our lives who need to be loved like that. Like Jesus. They need to feel safe. They need to feel like it’s okay to be human. It’s the kindness of God that leads people to repentance, so we need God to pour His supernatural kindness into us so we can meet the world with love that is undeniable, unmistakable and unflinching. Unwavering. Undeterred. People need to know they are welcome in the family of God.