[bl]O[/bl]ur culture tends to group people. The church does too. We place everybody in these social categories. It’s our way of helping understand each other, even take care of each other. But I think sometimes this categorizing hinders true and authentic community. The kind where diversity makes us whole and more complete, rather than separate and different. The single life is one such category. We have this life track our culture places us on from a young age, and when people end up taking different paths either by choice or circumstances they can’t control, sometimes we’re not quite sure how to let our two paths continually cross as we engage life together, differently.
I’m excited to introduce to you a guest writer today. As we discover how to be people and places of grace who create living spaces in our environments, it’s important to hear diverse perspectives. Our different voices will raise different questions, offer different solutions, and struggle differently as we work toward using our time and resources to welcome people to share life with us.
Today, we have the honor of hearing from Dana Spivy. Dana is passionate about her faith and enjoys living life in community. Dana offers her perspective on the challenges and advantages she faces in offering hospitality as a single woman.
[bl]I[/bl] eat alone in restaurants, and when I go to the movies sometimes I need only one seat. I have attended concerts by myself, and traveled by myself. There are many activities traditionally experienced with company that I participate in alone. Why? Because I’m single. And I’m the only person living in my house.
There are things about this one-person life of mine that I love. I can spontaneously change schedules and make plans because nobody is home waiting for dinner to be made. I have time to give to other families because I don’t have the responsibilities that come with having my own spouse and children. I get to eat ice cream right out of the container. Who could complain about that?
The hospitality conversation is one I want to engage…with my single life experience. Because it looks different for me than it does for my married friends or families with children.
I have a small home, a small budget and a small circle of influence. Doesn’t seem like much to work with…..but I’m willing. And able. I love to cook, mostly for others. I love planning and hosting parties. But mostly, I love people, even the difficult ones. I have a strong pull toward broken things: cities in turmoil, children in crisis, people on the fringe. I open my arms, ears and heart to those who need it and want it.
Sure, sometimes I wish I had more to work with. More space, more resources. And if I’m willing to be available and give of myself, it’s confusing to me why God doesn’t provide me with more to give. But I’m learning that the hospitality-filled life of one doesn’t have to look the way I think it should.
If my home is not big enough, then I need to be more creative with my space and environments (this is why I love little coffeehouses — they are like a second home). If my table isn’t big enough to seat my company, then maybe I could cook for others in their kitchen! If my resources are limited, then I should just focus on the resources that matter most: my willingness and availability.
I genuinely enjoy being around other people. And I want to create times of blessing, spaces of comfort, moments of grace…but single people don’t always get these opportunities. This is the part of hospitality I struggle with the most. Many people think those of us who are single won’t enjoy being with couples or families so they don’t extend us invitations. But what they’re really doing is not extending us relationship.
Hospitality roots itself in relationships. I work hard to generate connections and relationships, but it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated very much. Our social patterns don’t easily change. Families hang out with families, couples hang out with couples, singles hang out with singles. This pattern limits the idea of community, and the grace-filled hospitality that exists within it.
I have chosen to be grateful for the single life I’m living – even the hard parts. Being lonely is the truest way to understand how to be with a lonely person. Getting left out or being excluded is a hard lesson in learning to include others. Not having enough resources invites the creativity to find ways to give more.
Hospitality is having eyes that notice those in need of relationship. I pray that God continues to show me how to use my life and circumstances in ways that bless others and bring him glory.