Invite them into the mess

Invite them into the mess

31 days series title: Less polishing, more real life

We live in an old building with a noisy, creepy elevator. People get lost trying to find our building, tucked away in the back of a somewhat intimidating college campus.

No central air conditioning makes it too hot in the summer, even with the window units blasting. The walls are sparser than I’d like, and unless we’ve just swept, tumbleweeds of dog hair settle on the wood floors.

I’d rather no one ever see my tiny, perpetually cluttered kitchen, but that’s exactly where people gravitate and linger. Most of our furniture is from IKEA.

All these thoughts come up before me at the thought of inviting people into my home. I’d like to think the anxiety would diminish if we lived somewhere “nicer,” but I know better.

As Shauna Niequist so sharply points out in Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, women feel more shame and insecurity around their bodies and their homes than anything else.

I’ve talked to friends with superior homes that I admire, and they are equally sweaty and nervous at the thought of dinner guests. (Well, maybe not equally. I may be sweatier than most.)

Even those who love hosting, as I do, face some level of anxiety or burden.

Inviting people into our homes is scary because it makes us vulnerable. I’m afraid to show people the messes in my life, dog hair and insecurities alike.

Reading Bread & Wine earlier this year changed the way I think about inviting people here. Shauna, who I refer to by first name because I want us to be friends, began to set me free from my erring, unhealthy thoughts about it:

“You’ll miss the richest moments in life—the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love—if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.”

Inviting people in can be scary because on some level, it feels like I’m revealing who I really am. It’s a fear worth overcoming, because don’t we all want to know and to be known?

Deep relationships aren’t built on who we wish we were. They are built right in the midst of our brokenness and mistakes, mixed up in the messiness of our lives.

If you wait to invite people over until you have the perfect home, you never will.

Since it’s too good not to share, I’ll end with another quote from Shauna’s Bread & Wine:

What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.

Does the thought of inviting people over, especially new friends, make you sweaty?

This post is part of a 31 day series on “doing less to build more.” To read the other posts in this series, click here.

Photo Credit: criggchef via Compfight cc

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6 thoughts on “Invite them into the mess

  1. Yes, I get some stressed out when I’m having people over! I race around picking up stuff like a maniac — it drives my husband nuts! Last year we hosted a weekly Bible study group for college students and it really helped me get past some of that stress. They were coming every week whether I was ready or not, and eventually I got to know them better and realized they couldn’t care less if my house was a little cluttery.

  2. I like to believe that I’m certainly making progress in this area. There were times in the past when guests came that completely sent me into a tizzy. I think I’ve graduated from tizzy to a much more relaxed state but still have some improvements to make. Thank you for the reminder that I’m to create a space where guests can just “curl up with gratitude and rest.” That is so beautiful! I’m going to keep this in mind as I plan to have a house full come Thanksgiving : )

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