1 Peter 4:9 NIV
When I was nineteen, my dad decided to call quits on his twenty-five year marriage. Even though he told my sister and me he was divorcing our mom, not us, that’s not exactly the way our lives played out.
The day he left, he packed his stuff, drove out of state, and settled in with the woman who’d asked him to leave. Widowed with two small boys, she convinced him to marry her and adopt her kids and raise them as his own. Over that year, his infrequent trips to see my sister and I dwindled to zero.
I loved my dad. Up until he left, we’d been close. Determined to keep some kind of relationship, I asked if I could come visit him and his new wife. There was a lot of hesitation on his end. Despite our back-and-forth on weekends that didn’t work with his schedule, I pressed him to settle on a day and drove the three hours to his new house.
When I got there, he was waiting for me. Alone. After a few awkward false starts, we shared a meal and got more comfortable.
Until New Wife came home.
Not only did she barely spare me a glance, she changed out of her work clothes and left for the evening. While she was gone, her kids and I watched movies while my dad worked in his home office. The boys were sweet. New Wife? Not so much.
Later that night, New Wife finally returned and zipped past me again. After she tucked her boys in, she stood at the top of the stairs and yelled to my dad to come to bed.
“Night.” My dad got up from his recliner and headed toward the stairs.
A little panic set in. “Umm…” I looked at my suitcase, still sitting where I’d dropped it in the entryway next to my shoes.
“Oh.” He turned from the top of the stairway. “You’re sleeping in one of the boy’s room.” He pointed behind him to a closed door. Then he went to bed.
I picked up my bag and went to the room where he’d pointed.
The bed had been slept in, the top and bottom sheets left rumpled and far from clean. There was no pillow. No blanket. No welcome.
My chest caved and I fell to the floor next to that unmade bed and cried. After sleeping in my clothes, using my jacket for a pillow, I got up the next morning and drove home.
What I didn’t realize was that earlier that year New Wife had given him an ultimatum—his old family or his new one.
You can guess which family he picked.
That awful awkward night I spent in my dad’s house stayed with me. So did the chest-crushing realization that I was unwanted and unwelcome.
Now I have a house of my own. With a guest room.
I make sure the bed is always made, the sheets are always clean, and there are enough pillows for five. I’ve painted the walls a warm burgundy and placed a lamp and photographs on the nightstand. My hope is that everything about that room shouts—You’re wanted. You’re welcome. Come back anytime.
I never want to make anyone feel the way I did the night I visited New Wife and my dad.
In our busy, demanding world, it’s easy to get distracted. To forget our words and actions can linger in someone’s heart years after they’ve been said and done.
Are you welcoming to those around you?
Making others feel wanted doesn’t have to include the offer of a clean guest room. It could be a meal, a hug, a word of encouragement, a smile, a phone call. Even a text that shows you care.
In God’s economy, a few seconds of focused kindness can shape a lifetime’s worth of value. You matter. And so does the time you take to care for the people God’s put in your life.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me,
and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”
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