Following my parents’ example, I keep a guestbook log*. Theirs began in 1953, and mine in 1983. Any overnight stay or feet under the table warrants an entry. Hattie Miller, a brave single missionary who lived 60 miles away at the nearest mission station to ours, signed theirs the most often. It was she who bought us our book and signed it first. Today that book is held together with packing tape.
The arrival of company is an exciting event, but there’s a certain relief when they leave. We just happily said goodbye to a couple who stayed a week longer than they had originally planned (due to unforeseen circumstances). Other people’s energy tends to drain me, so despite their statement that they didn’t expect me to entertain them, why did I feel compelled to do so?
My mind goes back to visiting Sunday school classes in various churches on furlough in the U.S. I was forced into the limelight. I had to say something intelligent. I was the entertainment! The church members clutched the end of an electrical cord, looking for a place to plug it in. I was a receptacle and bingo—they had electric juice, I was being drained, and the lights were going dim! I didn’t want to be used. Plug yourself into someone else’s outlet please! But putting a cap over my outlet felt selfish and rude, so I kept the cap off.
In a listening prayer session, Jesus said to me: “Turn the tables on them. Ask them questions instead.” Deceit is the opposite of honesty. With company, I can say, “Do you mind if I take a power nap?” Of course they don’t mind. They understand. Maybe they’d like some alone time too!
A 2022 Update: Someone recently wondered how many times she had visited us, and I was able to pull out my guestbook and search for her name. As I scanned through the pages, I noted how many of our guests have passed on to glory. But I was most struck with the passage of time when I read my middle daughter’s entry: Jackson is learning to crawl. How did 12 years gallop by so fast!
After working through my emotions, I’ve discovered I’m far more tolerant now of being with people for extended periods of time. I’m still an introvert, but I rely more now on a greater Power Source to maintain inner peace.
*On the flyleaf of my parents’ book, Dad penned the following:
When the great Guest Book in the house above, Lies spread before us in the Home of love, One entry only waits the writer’s name: No record of departure, only “Came.”