Picking up the small green notecard, my friend read her assigned question on the subject of hospitality. “Do you have an intentional banner for your table? For example, do you want it to be a place of laughter? Of compassion? Of rest?”
The women around the table paused a bit to digest the question, then the answers started coming. “I want everyone at my table to feel loved and accepted,” one woman said.
“I want the words, ‘choose joy’ on the wall above my table,” another one said. “Wow,” I thought. This woman is one of the bravest women I know–she stays positive during long seasons of adversity.
A spunky grandma talked of her ideal of adults and children mixing in a happy gaggle around the table, with no favoritism or overt rules. (Let me tell you, her table would be a fun place! Not only does she have an incredible depth of soul, but she also had us in stitches half the time during our Bible study!)
I sat there stupidly, unable to think of any overarching theme for what happens around my table. Sure, there’s plenty of activity and laughter if you factor in five children and the preoccupation with inane stories and breached manners. Still, I couldn’t imagine wanting a banner of Burp Unhindered or Knock-Knock Joke Central flying over my table!
“I can’t really think of anything,” I said. As an afterthought, I added, “but I do love to listen to people.” I didn’t tell them this, but the depression that I have been fighting off for the last month always lifts a bit with quality human interactions.
Later it came to me. Ka-ching! Your word is listen…and this is a multi-dimensional kind of listening. Your job is to listen to people and to God simultaneously.
As I thought over it more, I realized that when I sat at my table (or stood in the aisle in the grocery store, or on someone’s front step) and truly listened to people with my ears open both to them and to God, my heart felt alive. Sometimes God gave me an idea (go pay her utility bill) and sometimes He gave me words to share (Sarah, the way you are being treated makes you feel worthless, but you are a wonderful mama to your children.).
Knowing this makes me want to be more intentional about practicing the gift of listening.
This holiday season, what banner do you want to have over your table? What gift has God given you to share with others? What aspect of hospitality makes your heart feel fully alive?
And now I am going to get this pesky kitten off my head and bake pumpkin pies for the community Thanksgiving dinner! Maybe I will have a chance to listen well to someone who is lonely on Thanksgiving.
10 thoughts on “A Banner For My Table”
Oh I would love to have a chat with you! It’s been many years since we were at CBS together. 🙂
The feeling is mutual! 🙂
What a great exercise.
I think my banner would be “you are safe here.”
Now I need to be intentional with that!
LikeLiked by 1 person
That is a much-needed banner! This world is a very unsafe place.
Love the pesky kitten! 🙂 I am just wondering…not sure how to say it…could your hearing difficulty contribute to the fact that listening is so important to you? I love how God can take our afflictions and turn them into something He can use in a special way. Listening is something I need to do better about. I like to be heard. 😞
I think you are right. God’s redemptive work is breathtaking! If you like to talk and I like to listen, then we should get along quite well if we met. 🙂 The world needs all kinds of different gifts, and yours is as important as anyone else’s.
I enjoy creating spaces for women to connect, to feel at peace with one another and within themselves. I loved your exercise! I might “borrow” it for the Christmas holidays as I am hosting dinner!
I love your emphasis on peace within and peace with others. A peaceful place at your table is just what many people need.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Rosina, for sharing this!! It has helped me with something I’ve been struggling to put into words for a long while!!
I’ve been told again & again that one of my gifts is listening to others share their hearts & yet it has often felt like a curse to me! I love listening but would often come away from the conversation exhausted & sometimes downright ill. I’ve begged God to take the gift away🙈 so I wouldn’t hurt myself but instead He would bring more people for me to listen too. 🙂
So I started my search in how I was to listen so I can still take care of my family & yet use my God given gift.
This blog post was very timely! I have a relationship I had been really struggling with in knowing how to not let the conversations
exhaust me. I read this earlier this week & felt God nudging me so I prayed off & on all week for God to give me the words that He wants this lady to hear. Yesterday she came with a huge load & I felt God tell me to tell her how BIG God is & how God wants to help her in this situation. I had several more instances to tell her about our BIG God. And I refused to take everything on me but kept praying & asking God to give me the words HE wants her to hear. After she left I felt so empowered!!! ( even cleaned a kitchen cupboard! 😊 It had been bugging me for weeks!)
I believe I’m understanding just a bit of what it means to listen to a person & God simultaneously!
I believe I would often take the load which wasn’t meant for me to carry!!
This is really huge for me! My husband has even begged God to remove this specific relationship from me because of how it always affected me!
Thanks so much for sharing!! I always enjoy reading your blog!! Blessings!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love the joy you felt as you walked in your God-given calling! The kitchen cupboard part made me grin. 🙂 Blessings!