Parents become mortified sometimes to the extreme. [There was a popular restaurant in Chapel Hill that my parents never entered again after I threw a fit during a rare dinner out at the age of three. Decades later, they were still afraid they’d be recognized.]
The tantrum we witnessed yesterday didn’t involve a toddler. The child was not even a child. He was probably a teenager or a young adult. And he was probably autistic and really upset about something that nobody else was experiencing.
The restaurant staff was perfect.
They asked if they could help. They offered more water and coffee. And when the family decided it was best to leave, the staff was stink-eye free.
Hospitality is often inconvenient. This is especially frustrating in a world where people are supremely annoyed by highway detours and when we actually do mind your dust. My first reaction is displeasure when my favorite bakery is closed the week I’d hoped to take morning buns to the office, when I should be happy that the bakery owners understand downtime.
It’s easy to offer genuine hospitality when everybody’s saying please and thank you. It’s not so easy when people don’t wait their turn or they smell bad or they take more than their share. It’s not so easy when you are trying to make people feel comfortable and one family’s screaming child is making everyone uncomfortable.
Entertaining angels is easy when they act like angels. But when they act like they struggle with demons, we hesitate. Imagine a church that offers hospitality even to the children of God who make everybody uncomfortable.