I was at the bank last July to send a large sum of money to Guatemala as the last part of our payment for the adoption. As I was waiting in line the man in front of me, in somewhat of a panic, was pleading with the bank tellers to help him with his situation. He had apparently deposited a check earlier in the day for a client that he wasn’t supposed to deposit, and he needed that check back. From the way he was talking, he needed it back badly. He wasn’t being rude. He was just very intensely trying to plead with the tellers and let them how know big of a deal this really was. The tellers, while trying to help, were responding to him with reasons as to why they couldn’t get the check back. All the reasons made sense. It was right after one of these reasons that the man said something that I will never forget.
He said, “It would help me if you didn’t keep telling me why you can’t get this done and begin sharing with me how you can get this done. Let’s be proactive please.”
Wow. What a great statement. Admittedly, I am a very good excuse maker. Perhaps one of the best that I know. This is crippling. Its admitting defeat with little effort at changing the outcome. Honestly, it’s fairly lazy. I am good at that too.
I was thinking about my frustration with the suburban life again this week and specifically how it relates to how busy we are and how little my family and I are able to be with our closest friends. It seems as if we go by week after week saying how we want to “do life together” and “be in community.” Bla. bla. bla.
The problem is that we continually find reasons why we can’t do this. Busy here. Busy there. Something came up here. Something came up there. We are all guilty. Not one of us is innocent.
So, taking this guy’s advice my wife and I decided to start thinking about how we can be with our community more often. We decided we would be a little proactive and see what happens. On Monday I sent an e-mail out to some people from our church who lived in the general vicinity to us and invited them all over for an open dinner on Friday nights for the month of February (We’re starting with Feb and seeing what happens – I’ve learned that trying little experiments are better than acting like this will be the one thing that will work for all time). The idea here is that our house is open to anyone starting at 5:30pm. If no one shows up, we’ll be okay we’re eating anyways. Of course, we ask people to let us know they are coming so we can prepare enough food and so that they can bring something to contribute if possible.
Now, Melanie and I live in a small apartment. We don’t have enough room for everyone. It’s not easy to have a house ready for people and to make dinner for a large group like that. But, those are reasons we can’t do this. Reasons we can? We love to. We have a roof over our heads. We have food. We love to host people in our homes. I can get working earlier on Friday mornings so that I can get home earlier in the afternoon to help Melanie get ready.
Last Friday night was awesome. We had seven people in our home. One family who we rarely get to see. We ate together in our small kitchen and then sat in our living room till midnight talking and telling stories. For some reason I found it profound and really awesome that at one time during the night, I was cutting our friend’s daughters’ smily face mashed potatoes for her. That’s how it should be. Will this last? We’ll see how the next month goes and then we’ll figure out where to go from there. But, I think Friday night was a breakthrough for us.
Doing something like this isn’t really that complicated. But you have to make a decision to stop making excuses and start figuring it out. Honestly, it’s not even that radical. It’s actually somewhat laughable that it took us this long to try something like this…