Alone Is A Choice



Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

I entertain a lot: it’s not big, it’s not fancy, but it is frequent. From family dinners of different sizes, to hosting church members, to coffee dates with old friends and soon to be new ones, to counseling sessions on my living room couch, to unexpected drop-ins; I have a lot of people pass through my house on a weekly basis. That fact was not always easy for me. In my younger days, having an open door policy could be very stressful, and the Lord really had to stretch me in this area of relaxed hospitality.


I often hear from women who wished they saw people more often, wished they weren’t so lonely, or wished they could do stuff with others. Sometimes I ask these ladies, “Who have you recently invited over to your place?” I don’t once remember getting a response. They want to be invited over to other people’s homes, they want to be hosted by others, but they don’t want to reach out themselves. They have fallen into the trap, of falsely believing, that receiving an invitation is the fun part, extending an invitation - not so much. But this just isn’t true. When we make ourselves available to others, we gain an entire world of people who will become available to us.


A good friend of mine once challenged several friends to begin “dating” the ladies at church. She wanted us to reach out to women, to invite them for coffee, or shopping, or lunch. She often said that some of these dates would be one time adventures, but others would lead to deep friendships, and she was absolutely right.


Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”


So how do we begin the art of relaxed hospitality?


1. Simple is good

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking five course meals are the only way to entertain.

Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves it’s just coffee, just dessert, just soup, or just snacks. Inviting people into our lives is the goal, what you feed them is secondary. Sometimes the simplest way to start is to choose a restaurant and ask someone to join you there. Then you can completely focus on them since cleaning and cooking have been removed from your to-do list.


2. Set aside the grandeur

Once again, free yourself of needing the perfect house, with perfect food, presented with perfect timing. Take-out pizza works, so do paper plates. Yes, it’s true that some basic housekeeping should take place when having people over; so keep it to the rooms you’ll be using, and remember straight and tidy, not massive overhaul, is the goal. (You have permission to forget about the dust bunny collection in the back of your closet.)


3. Schedule it

If we don’t schedule things, they rarely happen; for most of us spontaneity is not our gift. Do you want to entertain once or twice a month? Perhaps you want to have people over once a week; whatever your goal is, you need to find room in your schedule and block it off before you can reach out to others. You may need to choose two or three days that work for you; then you can offer your guest a choice as to what works with their calendar.


4. Specify your plan

Do you need a play date for you and your little ones, or could you use a shopping buddy? Do you want a coffee friend or someone who will do a book study with you? Decide what you’re looking for and then invite someone into your world.


5. Start asking

Yes, it’s time to begin inviting others over. Create a list of individuals and families you would like to host. This will help as you as you begin offering invitations for time slots you have already marked off on your calendar. If your first invite can’t make it, ask someone else. If you get a “no” from someone because of scheduling, ask what days work for them, and keep that in mind when you do future calendar planning.


6. Stop stressing

Not every person you have over will fit you perfectly; not every invite will produce a best friend. Sometimes you will host someone where you will have to give more than you get, at other times you will be blessed to overflowing.


We don’t have to be alone, we choose to be alone.


Some of us will have a larger pool of people to invite into our lives, but we all have someone who could benefit from the gift of our time.

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