Long ago, when we bought our first house, I decided I was going to have an “open home”.
I vowed to open our doors and invite people in, no matter how hard or scary it might be.
These days, having an “open home” means I open my home to my kids’ friends hanging here pretty often. There are lots of sleepovers, late, late nights, and pouring cereal bowls at 2:00 am for hungry kids while they watch a movie or play video games for hours on end.
It means church small groups, family gatherings, and a potluck dinner for the entire high school swim team.
It can also look like having one girlfriend over for coffee and finding solace in quiet conversation while sitting on my well-worn couch.
Having an “open home” is when my home is full of beautiful souls who find comfort in one another and apparently find comfort in this place.
Having an “open home” means that food is constantly made, drinks are regularly poured, and ongoing clean-up is a sometimes time-consuming and tedious task.
Having an “open home” means I often say yes, even when I’m tired, overwhelmed, and too busy. It means saying yes, even though I’m nervous about how it will all go.
The cost is sometimes high, but the payout is the fulfillment and joy that comes with having this place to welcome and love those who show up.
And here’s the only thing you really need to open up your home and invite people in:
My home isn’t extraordinary, nor is it decked out with the latest decor. We don’t have all the high priced ticket items that can entertain kids and we don’t have space in this home for the masses, so it gets a bit crowded at times. Our home is pretty average in every possible way and it’s also pretty messy. But I’ve learned that all it takes is some bulk Mac and Cheese and a fridge full of drinks for the kids. A bottle of wine and some veggies and crackers and cheese for the adults, and well- they come if you invite them.
I am not a good cook, nor am I a good hostess, when it comes to extravagant details. I battle the demon of anxiety and get overwhelmed by the messes and the madness easily. I worry people won’t be served the way they deserve to be served, and I wonder if I’m doing it all right. I’m either donning my comfy fleece leggings and oversized sweaters or my gym shorts and t-shirts because I’ve never been good at getting dolled up.
And no. one. cares. No one.
I realize there’s only one thing you need to open up your home.
All any guest truly needs is a heart that says “Welcome! You’re important here.”
Every time I have people in this place, I thank God for the ability to have people in this place. I mean, it’s all about the people, right? It’s rarely about the place. I believe God wants it that way.
And if your heart is in the right place, then everything else falls into place.
It’s not about the place, it’s about the people.
So for those of you who don’t feel comfortable having an open home. For any of you who feel ill-equipped to have people come through your doors. For all the people who think it’s just too much work to cook and clean and deal with people invading your private, sacred, sloppy, secluded space-
I encourage you to try the following:
1. Go to Costco and buy bulk Mac n Cheese, chips, sweets, pop or sports drinks, cheese and crackers, veggies or fruit, and paper products. Perhaps get a bottle of wine, coffee, or tea. No need to spend much- just whatever is cheap and easy.
2. Take deep prayerful breaths and ask God for strength, courage and an open heart to welcome people into your home.
3. Invite people over. Whether they are your friends or your kids’ friends- no matter. (Maybe try both?) Whether it’s just one friend, or many- no matter.
4. Welcome your guests into your home with open arms and you’ll notice that not one of those people will care one bit about the state of your home, the noodles bowling on the stove, the messes and the madness made in it all- because it’s all about the congregating and the connecting. THAT is the gift you offer when you open up your home.
5. When those guests leave, you might be overwhelmed with the cleanup. Maybe you’ll be overstimulated and exhausted, too. But as you put your home back together and slowly recover, I promise you, you will be smiling and reflecting with pure JOY in having opened your home and welcomed people in. You will realize that it really was about the congregating and connecting, and not at all about the state of your home, what you served, or how you looked.
So remember, having an “open home” really just means having a heart that says “Welcome! You’re important here.”
That’s all any guest really needs.