On a sunny day in London, I met my neighbor for the first time standing at the fence separating our gardens. I wasn’t expecting the reception I received.

Holding a watering can under a spigot and leaning on the fence for balance, I notice, over a nest of passion fruit vines, her blond hair blowing through the slats. Intersecting in the same corner while cleaning up flower beds in an extravagance of warm weather in springtime, I decide to interrupt her sweeping and introduce myself.

A few minutes later, she invites all of us to dinner later that week.

But I don’t take her invitation seriously and there is a reason for that.

After a decade of living in the South, known as the leader in hospitality for the United States, I learned when someone says they want to have you over for dinner or meet for lunch, that doesn’t mean they are actually going to do anything about it.

As it turns out, wishful thinking is a common courtesy.

Initially, I was bit slow to catch on to that when we moved to the South from the West and I just got my heart broken a lot.

But eventually, I stopped equating intention with authenticity whenever people used phrases like, “I would love to get together this week for coffee” or “We really want to have you over for dinner,” or “Let’s have lunch soon.”

I believe they meant what they said as the words were spilling out but I didn’t believe conviction matched a will to follow-up. I made peace with that reality and then something horrible happened.

Join me at Grace Table for the rest of the story.