patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

you can't be cheerful when you're mad

Kris read to me this morning from a Wall Street Journal article by Kathleen A. Hughes entitled “When Your Vacation Home Becomes Everybody’s Vacation Home.” In it, rich person after rich person—people with six-bedroom vacation homes in Tuscany—complain about acquaintances taking advantage of their hospitality.

Having recently endured an unannounced visit that seemed it would never end to our barely three-bedroom, all-year house that is also my office, I’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality lately. Or, actually, stewing about it.

And venting to my sister Sharon. She attempted to soothe my anger by legitimizing it. “In Proverbs it says, if you stay too long at someone’s house,” she told me, “they’ll grow to hate you.” (Afterwards, I looked it up. It’s Proverbs 25:17.)

But I was already obsessing about Jesus’ complaint to the inhospitable, in the account of the sheep and the goats: “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,” he tells the unwelcoming goats. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me,” and he relegates them to hell (Matthew 25:43, 45 TNIV). In an email to my colleague Jake, who teaches an intro to higher ed course with a theme of hospitality, I complained that the passage was distressing. He agreed.

In the Wall Street Journal article, a guy in  Ocean City, Maryland, finally comes up with the idea of charging friends and family $2000 a year plus incidentals for staying at his “two-level condo with ocean views.” A rather inhospitable solution to the problem, it seemed to me at first, until I read his concluding words: Now I'm getting $30,000 a year of income from the families,” he said, “and I'm not as angry about it as when we were subsidizing everyone.”

“You know,” I told Kris at the breakfast table, “It’s like Sharon says. That’s just what happens when you feel you’re being taken advantage of. You get mad and feel put upon. And your anger and put-upon-ness undermine whatever love you may have had to begin with. This guy’s coming up with a way to avoid feeling that way while still giving people a better deal than they could get at a hotel could be a practical realization of how to be the kind of ‘cheerful giver’ that Paul says God loves (2 Corinthians 9:7). You can’t be cheerful when you’re mad.”

No comments:

Post a Comment