One of the best postpartum gifts I ever received came three days after I delivered my third child, Mary Bernadette. I was slumped on my overstuffed red couch nursing an infant babe and wiping water faucet tears from bloodshot eyes. At my feet were two rambunctious toddlers, throwing pillows at each other and munching on crumbly crackers strewn over the floor. I was sore from a long labor and the delivery of a whopping 9 pound 1 ounce bundle of joy and John had been called into work unexpectedly. His departure left me--the tired, hormonal, and overwhelmed wreck that I was--to "parent" my children for a few hours.
I sat on my couch and watched the chaos play before my eyes while thoughts like How am I going to manage? When is Grandma getting here? and Will I ever sleep again? ran through my foggy mom brain.
The constant barrage of my unproductive mental meanderings was interrupted when I head knocking at my door. Still in my pajamas, I answered on the off-chance someone had heard my cosmic shouts of "SAVE ME! I'M DROWNING!"
It turns out, they had.
On my door step stood my good friend, Janet (a professional mother of many herself) loaded down with plastic grocery bags. "I figured your pre-baby provisions were running low," she said, lifting the groceries in the air.
I didn't know whether to start crying again or tackle her in a full body hug. "We just ran out of milk and Grandma isn't coming for a few more days," I answered.
I opened the door and Janet made her way into my kitchen where she unloaded her gift: steaks, bagged salad, frozen veggies, fruit, milk, juice, and bread. I think she may have even brought us toilet paper, which we also desperately needed. After she unpacked the food, she sat on my couch and held the baby. We visited for a little while, her presence lifting my spirits, and then she left.
I've thought about Janet's impromptu visit many times over the years.
How did she know exactly when to come? How did she know we really needed food and toilet paper?
Granted, Janet knows what it's like be a new mother to an infant while other little kids run amok. She's been in the trenches and understands introducing a newborn into the mix makes basic things like taking a bath and going to the grocery store a monumental challenge. Still, her spontaneous act of kindness was a great example of Christian hospitality to me. Her simple gesture was offered from the heart, without any expectation I return the favor.
This is the kind of Christian hospitality I want to practice.
I want to be a Christian who gives from what I have and doesn't whine about what I can't offer. I want to be the kind of Christian who serves--without having to be asked--because I've been there before, knows what it's like, and because I want to help. I want to open wide my home and my heart by being attentive to those around me.
I want to be the kind of Christian who shows up with toilet paper and food after my friend has had a baby because I know she really needs it.