Perms, Hospitality and Room to Breathe

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 - Jen Wise

My phone rang during breakfast – I, as I often do, let it go to voicemail.  

It was 8:30 and we were behind schedule – and that’s what I say to my kids as I hurry them along, “We’re behind schedule!”

I could see that it was June, a neighbor a few blocks down who’s husband had passed away over a decade ago. I waited for the voicemail – I needed to be sure nothing was wrong so I could continue the whirl of backpacks, lunches, gym bags and more. When the voicemail never chimed I became nervous and dialed her number. 

Her voice told me there was no emergency. She had started putting curling rods in her hair and needed someone to give her a perm, could I come over?

I heard myself say, “I’ll be there in an hour,” though truthfully I felt a little conflicted. I always spend the morning at the Y: catching up on emails, working on projects and hitting my favorite fitness class. It’s my routine. A simple one, but I enjoy it. It’s familiar. 

What’s not familiar is showing up at an almost-stranger’s home to hopefully not burn all her hair off. 

Why is it so hard to step out of our routines? What is it that makes us cringe when we encounter an opportunity to bless someone with comfort, friendship, hospitality? When will our concept of generosity include more than just our financial resources?

Here are three practices that are helping me loosen my grip on a lifestyle centered on ME:  

Let Go – of your routine, of your lists, of always having your own way. 
Yes, having schedules, lists, and a neatly kept calendar... these are all good things! I am an enormous fan of organization. Still, when we hold these things above people, and the opportunities that we encounter to bless them, we tend to miss our call to hospitality as we tighten our grip on 'my way'.

Learn to be Comfortable – out of your comfort zone. 
“I’m just not comfortable having people over.”
“I don’t want to go there, we wouldn’t fit in at all.”
“I’d love to help out, but I’d feel really out of my element.”
                              -Excuse Makers

It’s pretty difficult to reach out to others when you’re hiding in your comfort zone. It takes practice to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations and with unfamiliar people. The upside? The more you practice, the more natural it becomes. 

Leave Room – to breathe, to give, to love, to enjoy. 
As a new season approaches evaluate what is a healthy amount of time for work/projects/commitments/productivity. Then, dial it back a little. It’s true that sometimes we need to say ‘no’ to something good to do what’s best. I suggest that we also need to say ‘no’ to some good things in order to leave room for the unexpected, the everyday opportunities, the morning-of perm requests. 

Choose to intentionally leave spaces in your schedule. With a bit of breathing room you’ll be free to enter into the blessings around you, and truly enjoy being a part.