I don’t know if anyone’s ever fully prepared for the delicate and trying balancing act of launching our children into adulthood. As moms, we spend the first eighteen years of our kids’ lives bouncing between daily, mundane mothering tasks and attempting to lay for them a solid spiritual, emotional, and social foundation. Then, in the largest feat of parental surrender, we step back, release control, and give them the necessary space to spread their wings . . . solo.
When our firstborn, our biggest challenge, our truth-teller, was nearing that stage himself, he repeatedly let it be known he couldn’t wait to be out of our house. It tore at my heart to hear the words, “I can’t wait to be on my own.” But not too many weeks after we’d dropped him off at college eight hours from home, a phone call came.
“Mom, I need to tell you something.” His voice cracked a little as he paused to gather his thoughts. “I know I was super cocky about this whole transition thing. I didn’t think I’d struggle with homesickness at all, but it’s been a challenging semester. And I just want you to know, I can’t wait to get home. My soul needs it, and I’m so excited to be with you guys.”
Ahhh. Thank you, Lord.
I’ll never forget that call. My momma heart exploded. Summed up in a few short sentences was a gift every parent desires. This moment marked so much more than a child eagerly anticipating a home-cooked meal. It marked a heart softening to the Holy Spirit and years of answered prayer for my husband and me as we stood in the gap on behalf of our children.
Even with an imperfect home filled with sinful parents and siblings, unmade beds, cluttered closets, and leftovers in the fridge, he knew our home represented a refuge, a spiritual center, a place to belong. He knew it reflected a tiny glimmer of God’s character, a place that symbolizes welcome, where life is renewed, hope is restored, and a feast of life awaits. It took his being separated from everything he’d ever known to fully appreciate the welcoming hospitality of it, but our son — bless his heart, as we say in the South — just wanted to come home!
There’s something incredibly unique about the concept of home, isn’t there? We know it’s not about the building. It’s so much bigger than that. There’s a longing knitted into every single one of us to find a place to call home, even if some struggle to put a name to it.
So, as people saved by grace, why aren’t we rushing to swing wide our doors to create an atmosphere in our homes that says “welcome” to all? Pointing others toward an eternal home is truly the heart of our most important ministry and when we include our own children in it by modeling how to grow a welcoming heart towards others, we train and disciple a new generation of world-changers under our very roof.
As we reframe our preconceived notions of hospitality and discover how God uses simple steps of faithfulness to ignite life change, we create a powerfully interactive life lab for our children or those we mentor and an exciting new legacy for our family. This is a whole new reason for allowing life-on-life ministry to generously flow in and out of our homes: Our children or those we disciple learn hospitality and service by watching; they learn it by doing. And I can’t think of a better way of tangibly exhibiting missional living.
Think of it. Through this “welcome home” lens, our children begin to view every person that God brings through our doors as divine intervention amid their everyday life. By watching us serve, they learn how to partner with us by living out the Great Commandment and sharing the gospel. As we demonstrate how much we value those different from us, as we affirm others’ unique personalities and listen to their stories, our kids learn to do the same. Just as serving others in Jesus’ name proves to be the antidote for my own self-centeredness, it works in my children’s hearts as well. Through hands-on interaction with us, they see what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus by becoming the church of God in our very own home. As we walk alongside them, they’re able to imitate us in living a life on purpose.
Living a life of welcome lets us cast a long-term, multigenerational vision for our children as well as those who consistently do life with us. By being part of a welcoming home, our children learn tangible life skills that allow hospitality to become a natural outflow of their lives, regardless of their gifting or personalities. They’re being equipped day by day to enter the future knowing how to build community in an age of isolation, how to make memories in a generation mobilized by technology, how to create an environment of discipleship among people yearning for godly mentors.
That’s creating a legacy right here, in the laboratories of our own homes.
And that son that just wanted to come home? He has welcomed and served, grumbled, and complained. He’s shared his bed, his food, and his toys when he didn’t want to, but through it all, he would agree that loving God, loving His will, and following His will in loving others is always worth it.
P.S. That once challenging son just celebrated his first anniversary with a precious woman who I’ve prayed for since he was a baby, and now I get the honor of watching them create their own welcoming home.
As we demonstrate how much we value those different from us, as we affirm others’ unique personalities and listen to their stories, our kids learn to do the same. - Jen Schmidt @beautyandbedlam: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
A life lab! Yes!
This post is such an encouragement to me in this season of the revolving door, when I feel as if I need to take attendance every morning before setting the table for breakfast. Who’s home from college? Who’s away for the weekend? Isn’t there a simpler equation for counting plates?
We give them strong roots and wings, and then they fly, but how wonderful when they come back to the nest because they love it here!
Yes, isn’t it?
And even in the midst of their poor choices, we love them like crazy so they still want to come home. 🙂
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
My daughter just graduated from college, and your post today really touched my heart. Thank you! <3
Adelaida Diaz says
Thank you so much, I’ve send this to my daughters and son. They have their own families now .God bless..
You are so welcome. I pray it’s an encouragement to them through the beautiful and hard times.
What an inspiring living legacy you are creating!
Thank you, Jas, but it’s ALL Him through the good, bad and even uglier moments. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Our children learn from what we do & show them. Modeling how to love others well is a legacy worth leaving. You all raise Godly children & then send them out of the nest to fly. They want some independence. Deep down they love the home & family life more. Life with children or aging parents can be a life lab of experiments. Trying & showing them different things. Working to see how to make their lives better. Thanks for leaving a great legacy for you children.
Bonnie Gray says
I so agree with you on how those we disciple or our children learn hospitality by watching and doing, Jen! That’s how I experience Jesus as a little girl growing up in a broken family – I didn’t have that experience you’re describing in my family of origin – but each time I went to my Sunday School or youth leaders house for meetings or dinners or get togehthers, I *experienced* missional living – filled with welcome, joy and love. And so, now that I’m a mom myself, I’m raising my kids to experiemce love, hospitality by offering to them what I received from my spiritual aunties, uncles, spiritual big sisters – and love on them the way God intended. And esp. my high school youth leaders and from my 20’s. and that’s why I became a youth missionary in my 20’s. And now, as a mom in my 40’s and to other women, I am doing the same, opening my home and my stories – so that they can share yours. I will always remember your hospitality when I cried during the (in) retreat that year in 2013 and you were the one person that reached out to hug me and pray for me – and that was hospitality – true hospitality of the heart reaching out to love me with God’s hands and heart. I can’t WAIT to hug you in just a little bit at the (in)courage retreat and enjoy your company this week, CAn you believe it will be 10 years since we started blogging together for (in)courage, friend! 🙂 with love, Bonnie