Simon’s been working like a mad man lately, providing for us, and I am so blessed to have him.
Sunday night he got home from one of his many jobs, tired, worn out. I tried to start a serious conversation about serious things, like where we’re going from here; what we’re up to when our lease runs out in less than two months. He told me what I already knew: that he hasn’t had time to think about it. That he’s either working or sleeping.
And I said, “Let’s get out of here.”
We loaded up the car Monday morning and drove to Charleston, desperate to put some space between us and our house, our his job, all the decisions weighing on us.
I called friends and hotels on the way, and we found a B&B on Monday night. Meanwhile, a friend I’ve made through skirt! wrote to say she was out of town but would be back Tuesday morning, and did we want to stay with her. I said yes.
Sabrina made us feel like royalty. Her house is clean and smells divine, and you could see the joy on her face as she scrambled(the most delicious ever) eggs and made coffee this morning. It’s a gift, I think, to be so joyful in serving.
Simon (who was quiet most of the time, mostly because he couldn’t get a word in edge-wise between Sabrina and me and all our frantic talking and hand gesturing) commented on our drive back to North Carolina that watching how much Sabrina loved having us made him feel like he could really relax. When you feel like you’re burdening someone, it’s so difficult to feel at ease.
We’ve talked about this before. We have other friends – a married couple in England – who are some of the most hospitable people I’ve met anywhere in the world. Arriving somewhere where you feel like preparation has been made for you is a huge blessing. Louisa is always cooking, and Justin is popping wine corks and re-filling glasses with Diet Coke – which he’s made sure he’s stocked up on because he knows it’s what we drink. They’ve gone to the local farm shop and bought bacon for Saturday morning breakfast, left towels on our bed, made plans for our stay. Their young son, Elijah, has even been prepared for our arrival, and is standing at the front door, waving as we pull in the drive.
It’s priceless, really, to feel like you’ve been anticipated. Like someone loves you so much they’ve thought about what you’ll like to eat, to drink, to do.
Last year, in our house group in England, we did a study about spiritual gifts. We had people who know us well fill out questionnaires about us, and it helped to see what our real gifts were. One of my top three? Hospitality. But I’m sorry to say, I’ve fallen down on the job.
As we drove back from Sabrina’s this morning, I said to Simon, “I love the way she made us feel. I think I used to be good at that. I don’t know what happened.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve noticed.”
He went on to explain that he saw a change in me: the girl I once was – laid-back, excited to have visitors, shopping for special groceries and stocking the house with fresh flowers – left sometime last year. In her place has been another girl. One who panics at the thought of people in her house, her space. One who stresses about how she’s going to get her work done and cook for more people.
To all the lovely friends who’ve visited us in America: I’m so sorry.
To Simon’s parents, to Ben and Martina, to James and Jo, to Veronica, Natasha, and Ben and Helen: please don’t hold it against me. Something changed me last year. My job, maybe. I don’t know.
But I said a prayer today: I asked God to change me, to give me back that gift I loved so much, that passion for people. I’m learning to let go of the me that was starting to take over, to steal my joy. I don’t want to live like that.
Now: I’ve got a spare room and all the time in the world for flower-buying, board game-playing, and goodie-baking.