HOME: A PLACE TO GROW COMMUNITY
Last August, my husband and I moved and purchased a new home. It is a much larger home than our prior house and, honestly, is more than we ever dreamed. It is an amazing blessing and a way we truly saw God at work in our lives. With this extra space, we look forward to the ways we can bless others. We hope to help children and families that are walking through difficult times. We also want to open our home to friends and family as much as possible. We want to share our home, this immense blessing, with those in our lives. We desire for our home to be a place where we can be open, honest, vulnerable, and generous with others.
We hope our home is a place where community is fostered.
Last week, I wrote a post about our desire to be known. To be able to share our stories and be truly seen and understood. Without judgement. To live in true and beautiful community. It is something I am passionate about because I have seen the change in my own life when I intentionally moved to live in community. Yes. I moved for community, though this move is actually two-fold. I literally moved because of my
desire need to live in community. I also had to get myself to a place that could live in authentic and vulnerable community. Really, community is just that vital and an amazing display of grace in my life. If you are not feeling that community. If it is missing in your life, please, please contact me. I would love to stand with you, together, in this virtual community.
Fostering community; real, true community can be difficult. You have to put yourself out there. You need to vulnerably invite people into your story, your world. You can do this by sharing your story with them. By sharing your life in an honest and open way. But you can also do this by inviting them into your home. By being hospitable. I grew up in a home where people were always welcomed. There was always plenty of food to eat, to share and people were always invited, even to just stop by. I loved that and hope to create a similar atmosphere. I want friends and family to feel welcome and at home in my home. I want them to know it is a safe place. A place they will be met with unconditional love.
I think about what it means to be hospitable. Frequently, I think it means having a clean home. Having all our laundry out of sight (and really, ideally, folded and put away). Having a perfectly swept floor, empty kitchen sink, tidy kitchen counters. Yet nowhere in the definition of hospitality does cleanliness come up. Instead hospitality is defined by the treatment of people. It is defined by the intention. The heart behind the action. The heart behind the welcome. Hospitality is marked by generosity and friendliness.
So I reframe. I start again. I desire to be show hospitality. I shift my focus. I remember that hospitality is about generosity. Generosity with my space. Generosity with my story. Generosity with my honesty. And I realize, the hospitality I offer looks differently with each of the people we are welcoming. There are friends that feel most welcomed by a tidy home. They appreciate the thought and care made to clean for them. To show them that they are important so I make time to tidy my home. (I should pause and say, I try to never have a ‘dirty’ home. But there are times when the clean laundry has not made it’s way upstairs or the dishes haven’t made it to the dishwasher, or I haven’t dusted or mopped or…) There are other friends that prefer to see evidence of children, of mess. I have to admit, this seemed strange to me. I prefer tidy. I prefer perfect. But of course, life is neither of these. So I have learned to relax. To live with grace and give that grace to myself and those in my community.
Recently, a friend came over to a pile of clean laundry covering the floor. I had forgotten to pick it up and put it away. And she felt relieved. My mess made her feel welcomed. Honestly, it made her feel known. I was generous with my truth, with the reality of my daily life. With the struggles of my daily life. And that generosity made her feel known and understood. It made her feel safe to share her story. Her life. We were able to talk about the difficulties of mothering so many littles. We were able to share “me too.” And we were able to be known. And that, is what hospitality is all about.
The generosity and vulnerability of hospitality are so intricately wound together. We must be generous with our space, our home. We must be vulnerable to share our stories and even our mess. Oh this generous vulnerability. It may be one of the hardest places to live. Generously.Vulnerable. We must bravely step out of our comfort zones. To risk being known, to risk sharing our mess. But the reward. Oh, friends! The reward, such grace, is found in the true community built. The community forged from generous vulnerability. Community created by a welcoming heart.
With summer beginning, can I urge you to step out and welcome others? To reach out to your neighbors and friends and welcome them. Truly welcome them. To meet them with a generous vulnerability. To encourage them to feel known and to be known, yourself. To show those around you hospitality. And to create true community.