Skip to main content

the messy business of hospitality and gift cards...

Amazon marketplace is a wonderful place. You can buy virtually anything you can think of from there with frequent perks of free shipping and next day delivery. It's beautiful.

Katie was given a very generous $100 gift card to Amazon for her birthday not too long ago. She stashed it away with all the other gift cards we get--behind the Kitchen Aid mixer in a small plastic bag. It's where gift cards go to rest until we are ready to use them; a logical decision to keep your wallet from becoming a brick-sized leather lump to rest your buns upon.

Katie has been looking at different things she wanted to get with this gift money and putting them in her shopping cart until she had the full dollar amount, figuring she would pay for it all at once. Well just about a week ago Katie was finally ready to check out and make her purchases. Except...the gift card wasn't in the baggy. She asked me if I had recently used it or misplaced it and I assured her that I hadn't seen it or touched it, as it was her birthday money, not mine.

After searching high and mostly low, it was deemed that the card was lost, or more probable--stolen. I thought back over the past month: a birthday party that featured 50-some guests, a praise band social gathering that featured another some 50 participants, not to mention about a dozen smaller gatherings of family, friends, and neighbors who had all been through our house within the span of about 35 days. The card could have disappeared at any of these events and indeed it is probable that it did. We had a similar situation turn up with a $75 gift card to Kroger that we received shortly after the twins were born. At the time we didn't think much of it, just that it had become misplaced or perhaps that our sleepless brains were misremembering how and when we spent it.

My initial reaction was anger, then betrayal. Someone had come into our house and stolen something that belonged to us! It was one thing if they had asked for it, but to take it without our knowledge...that was a low blow. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was upset about losing money that wasn't mine in the first place. Indeed, it wasn't even Katie's. It was a gift. It was unexpected spending money that we weren't calculating to begin with, so why did it hurt all of a sudden to lose it now? Had we just become so attached to the money that we couldn't bear the thought of letting it go? Was it that we didn't have a chance to say goodbye to the money? Was it that we didn't get anything in exchange? Upon further reflection, all those questions seem a bit foolish, and there was little to do about it now anyway, so we let it go.

And that's right about when I had the epiphany--being hospitable is messy business. 

 When you open your home and your life to others you welcome their good and their bad. Being a host is a rewarding and indeed, a biblical principle (Romans 12:13), but that doesn't mean that it is safe. Things get soiled, broken, stolen, used, abused, or mistreated when guests come over. Either because they don't know the rules of your stuff, they don't care, they are unfamiliar, are greedy, or just are more careless than you. But you know what? That's okay. I would rather be hospitable and lose possessions than to close myself from being able to practice generosity and opening my home and my life to others. 

"If a penny saved is a penny earned, is a penny stolen the same as a penny given?"
-my brain

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Protesting ChristMass

During a meeting with several other Cincinnati area worship ministers last week we got to talking shop about Christmas/Christmas Eve services; who was doing them, who was not, how many and what time. I was intrigued (neither positive nor adverse reaction) to find that roughly a third of the churches represented were not having any kind of Christmas Day services, even though Christmas morning is a Sunday this year. Yet there was one leader (Reggie) who said that their church has a Christmas morning worship service every year regardless of whether it falls on a Sunday.

Initially this shocked me. How could this be? Why would this be? Why have a church service every Christmas? Why not stay home and eat cinnamon rolls and open presents like the rest of America? Reggie said many of the people who expect this from his congregation are not native North Americans. Initially Reggie was against the idea, but once he realized how many people from his congregation wanted to have a Christmas mornin…

Casting A Conscientious Vote

Here's the thing America: you nominated two terrible representatives for public office--one "Republican" and one Democrat. Both of their campaign managers have decided that the strongest approach to get elected is to basically claim "at least I'm not them." Both parties have released ad campaigns to bash the other candidate and both, I might argue, do so quite effectively.

Now that I have successfully been persuaded that I should vote for neither candidate (thanks to the other candidate), I am left wondering who there is left to vote for. Certainly there is some candidate who is both qualified as a politician and as a person of reasonable morals??

Enter the 3rd party system.
America was founded against a national party system (you can read about that here for an enlightening time). And yet it is this national party system that has allowed a Democratic convert like Donald Trump to represent the Republican party. Trump knew that the only way to have a shot at…

The Home School Game

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas. Our family has started a tradition of celebrating this day by opening gifts from our stockings on this day and remembering the historical figure of Nicholas, who was a humble and generous person. It is a wonderful compromise for our family backgrounds to both celebrate Santa Claus and at the same time keep Christ-mas about Christ. It has become a tradition I look forward to every year.

This year, we decided to add an element of teaching our children to be generous by choosing toys they want to give away to other girls and boys who are less fortunate than our children. Katie lined up two dozen toys they had not been playing with for some time now and laid them all out on a table. One by one, our kids examined the toys on the table and were instructed to pick out onetoy they wanted to keep for themselves. After each kid had picked out a toy to keep, they were told to go back through the toys and pick another toy they wanted to give away. It was heart-…