The Good Doctor and I have made a conscious effort to live our lives always with "a place at the table". It has looked differently at different times. We've been better at it during some times than others. Many times I've struggled with the Good Doctor's spontaneity in having a place at the table (I still cringe when I remember him telling people, "Come anytime! The door is always open.) while he has struggled with my desire to plan ahead and my need to have everything "just right". But through the years of choosing to have open lives and an open home, I can look back and say in every circumstance, "It is good." While addictions, mental illness, history with the prison system, choices made, or lifestyle lived may separate us, our common brokenness and humanness always bring us together. We were all created with a need for community. Yes, even introverts like me.
While at times we may have been taken advantage of and other times we (mostly me) have felt overwhelmed with the burden of hospitality, we've come to know that ease, self-gratification, and prestige are never part of the equation.
Look who Jesus made room for at the table:. the disabled, the ill, children and women, the lowly in society (shepherds and tax collectors), people who would eventually lead to His death.
Making a place at the table doesn't mean I have to agree with those who come in. It doesn't mean I get to argue my point or to speak in a condescending, disparaging, or demeaning way. Making a place at the table means I simply love. It means I love in spite of differences. It means I see myself as a servant and give others a higher position than myself. It means I will listen; to hear another's story with true interest. It means I'm willing to sacrifice myself; to get my hands dirty in service. Making a place at the table means that anything that has been given to me, I hold loosely in order to better give it up for others.
Ultimately, like Jesus, making a place at the table means I have to be prepared to give my life for others. Judas, sitting at Jesus' table, set into motion a series of events that led Jesus to the cross. And He willingly went to the cross for Judas. For me. For everyone at my table.
It's hard. So hard. The desire for self-preservation, for comfort, for being "safe", is strong. But it's not Christ-like. So this Lenten season, as I fast from desires that are strong, I am trying to replace them with Christ's love and grace and sacrifice - for everyone who finds a place at my table.