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.
Having an “open home” means I open my home to hosting my beloved women’s ministry and my adored teen ministry, where laughter is heard and heavy topics are shared.
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.
Alison Hector says
Hey Chris! I can so relate to the emotions you expressed here, especially the sense of anxiety and the overwhelm from cleaning up. I love having people over, but I admit that it can be very tiring. But knowing that they are happy and comfortable as they visit, and that God’s given me the desire to invite people in, I press ahead and it’s always a great time, whether, as you said, it’s just one person, or a whole tribe. Here’s to more happy hosting!
I love that you can relate to that overwhelm, Alison! Glad to know I’m not the only one! It’s exhausting and stressful at times, but it really is worth it, isn’t it!? I’m so glad you get this. 🙂
Janine Huldie says
Aw, what a great message and truly agree that it doesn’t take much but just being yourself and welcoming people (family and friends) with an open heart into your home to truly make others indeed feel welcome. thanks for the important message and reminder here today, my friend 🙂
Exactly, Janine! Thanks so much for coming over to read this! It’s hard for some to open up their homes, and I really do get that. But it’s SO worth it!
Love this! And I find it’s much more satisfying when my guests don’t start doing the dishes ’cause ultimately I really just want to visit with them. So if they start cleaning up my home during our visit, I feel obligated to start cleaning up the mess. I’d like a sign to put up that says Do Not Do My Dishes – You are more Important
Ha! Well, you have some great friends if they are willing to help do those dishes! But yes, I totally get that you don’t want them to clean and focus on that- I would want the same!
lisa thomson says
YES, this is so true, Chris. Thanks for this reminder. I used to get very anxious about having people over and cooking dinners. I thought everything had to be perfect. To be honest, the crowd I was entertaining were a bit that way, so they set a bar. Now, I could care less about all that (although I do clean the bathroom if anyone is dropping in 🙂 ) I love the idea of bulk Mac n Cheese!!
Hope you’re doing great and enjoying this last weeks of summer.
I have those feelings sometimes too, but I choose my people wisely. 🙂 They are all about relationships too, which surely helps me feel less pressure about having everything be perfect. My home and what I serve are FAR from that! lol
Kim Sisto Robinson says
you are an example for all of us…
to open up our arms, connect with the un-connectable, love, and follow God’s lead.
You make me better. You make me 🙂
Much love and Mac n Cheese hugs!
My gosh, you always hit me in the heart hard with your gorgeous words, my beloved friend! Thank you- for your love. I could say the EXACT same things about you!
Marie Kléber says
This is so true Chris!
Thank you for such a nice reminder. Yes we all need it when we get overwhelmed with chaos and having all things ready for people…
We tend to forget that. We tend to want everything to be perfect.
But being together, having fun together, enjoying the present – this is what counts!
Hope you had a nice summer. Take care
I think we all can get consumed by the ‘presentation’ and forget our presence is so much more important! I have to remember this often when I get overwhelmed and nervous about serving those who come through my door… 🙂
Julie Jo Severson says
What a wonderful, full life you have, Christine. I know that everyone who walks through your door feels loved and welcomed. A very blessed community!
Aw, you are SO SWEET, Julie! I’m absolutely sure I could say the same about you, my friend!
Candace Playforth says
I couldn’t love this more, Chris. And I SO needed to hear every word, especially this: So remember, having an “open home” really just means having a heart that says “Welcome! You’re important here.”
I get ridiculously stressed about cleaning when I’m having people over but you’re so right. Nobody cares about that stuff! We just got a new couch and you would think my mind would go to: let’s have some people over and fill it up. But instead my first thought: now we definitely can’t have anyone over because they’ll spill something on my new couch. So crazy ;).
You have inspired me to make some calls and start inviting, my friend. Thank you! I wish you lived closer. You would definitely be on that invite list!
I’m so glad this spoke to you, Candace!
When I had the swim team over, I worried about where all the kids would even fit in my house! They spilled into the family room- the only room with carpet and one young man spilled his FULL CUP OF CHOCOLATE MILK all over the carpet! Definitely what I was worried about most, but hey- it’s just carpet and I’ve learned that things are just things- people are so much more important! Our “stuff” has been used up, worn down, broken, spilled on, dented and my carpet has so many stains at this point- and I’ve grown to love that. It means people have been here, and I’m so grateful they have. 🙂
Kristi Campbell says
I so wish we lived close to one another. I have the same mentality (bring all the people – especially the kids) but we haven’t met a ton of people here. I think we should just invite everybody we have met and maybe they’ll bring people too??? Your kind and beautiful soul shines through in this post (and all of them). xo
Also, now I want some mac n cheese. 😉
I have every confidence you will meet more people and have a FULL HOUSE soon, my friend! It takes time to gather your people when you’re new to a community! I wish we lived close too… I’d be over ASAP with some boxes of mac n cheese and a bottle of something for us to drink! 🙂