The conversation took a left turn when he gave the invitation: ” You guys can stay with us when you come to Germany. You are always welcome. We would love to have you. We mean it, unlike when most Americans make the offer. They smile and say it, but most of the time they don’t mean it.”
There was no harm meant in this statement. In fact, my husband and I quite agreed with the foreigner. Good intentions mean nothing without follow-through. I am the first to recognize this, and the first to admit I myself have led a shameful path of unkept promises. I know that I am only human, and I, like most Americans, over-book my life and then wonder why I am so tired and can’t make it to all of my commitments. The issue isn’t that we don’t MEAN well. The issue is that we don’t prioritize, we don’t leave any “wiggle room”, we aren’t mindfully intentional with our word.
How many times have I said, “Yes! Let’s have coffee this week,” only to let the week scorch me into a flurry of “need-to-do’s” before I suddenly remember in horror on Sunday night that I never called my friend? Too many. I mean well. I just suck at follow-through sometimes. My only saving grace is that I know this about myself, and the older I get, the more mindful I try to be. TRY to be.
A few weeks ago when my sister-in-law told us that she met a really nice German family who would be traveling through Amarillo soon and could we possibly meet up with them, we replied with an emphatic “yes!” When the Germans called yesterday to say they were in town and my husband and I were knee-deep in Christmas lights and lantern-hanging (Chinese New Year is fast-approaching…More on that later), we panicked. We wanted to meet them, we wanted them to stay with us, but our first response was, “Oh my Gosh! The house is a mess! We can’t have anyone over!” But after the surprise shook off, we hurriedly cleaned up during the hour we asked them to give us.
We truly meant it when we said, “Yes, tell them they can stay with us. We’d love to host them in Amarillo.” Our favorite thing ever is to meet new people and learn how other people live life. I mean, don’t you find it fascinating that German wives AND husbands receive several YEARS off work when they have a child? They get paid and their job will be there for them when they return! This family has been traveling around the U.S. in an 80’s conversion van, taking in the sights of California, the Grand Canyon, mountains and deserts. Traveling along Route 66 brought them to our doorstep and I think that’s pretty cool. I also think it’s pretty cool that it happened to be the night that our friends were playing music at the local landmark bar on Route 66, where Thomas got the full “Texas bar band” experience.
I want to be intentional with my word. I want to smile and MEAN what I say. So when they invited us to Germany, I smiled and said, “We will start planning now.”