Come Anyway

topics:
Hospitality
msmith

As summer approaches my home anticipates the change of the season. Like the shorts I don’t care to put on, the porch and fire pit call out to me all dusty and ready to be enjoyed in the sun and they tell me that it’s time to invite people over. It’s time to invite them in and out. And this fixer-upper house that we live in teaches me that I will never be fully ready and this space will never not have power lines and a pile of trash patiently waiting to be taken to the dump.

If I want to be in community, if I want to have friends, I have no choice but to invite them in right where I am. Because it might look different next year but it still won’t be perfect or ideal, so why keep wasting all that time waiting around?

The young pastor and his wife we just met arrive and the appetizer I tried at the last minute turns out gross and nobody cares because there’s still dinner food and they didn’t come to try a new appetizer anyway. The longtime friends expecting their second baby come on a Friday for mediocre homemade pizza, driving almost an hour each way, knowing they’ll have to put their little one down to bed while they are here and risk waking her up for the long drive home.

But connecting is worth it. They come after their long days; we host in spite of the mess. And it’s worth it every single time.

I never regret inviting someone over. I only regret putting it off and focusing on all the wrong things.

20140605_Nester_Understanding

So we text and call and ask them to come anyway and they always say yes. They say yes because they don’t care about power lines and green pools and cluttered coffee tables and we ask because we’ve learned that we can trust our friends not to judge us. Why would they do that?

When I hesitate to invite people in, it’s usually because I forget that I can trust them.

When I remember that I can trust people not to judge and I still don’t invite them over, that tells me I’m focusing on all the wrong things. Like myself. And my stuff and me me me and more of me and that’s the exact opposite of why we want to have people over. We have people over so we can connect. They come and don’t judge because they can relate because guess what, their life and house isn’t perfect either.

They get it. They get us, and I bet your people get you, too.

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  1. 1

    Love this Myquillyn, thank you.

    I’m aware that I need to be more hospitable regardless of how ‘together’ things feel in our home. The tricky part for me is not the food worries (husband is a Jamie Oliver devotee) but how to keep get-togethers short enough that I don’t suffer as an introvert. But I suspect that’s a whole other post/book! (subtle hint to you writer-types) x

    • 2
      Nancy R says:

      Hi Kittty Mum, I was going to comment the same thing. My other problem is my husband is very introverted so if he doesn’t connect with the people he may not even show or leave early. So I am left hosting as well as trying to entertain. Makes it easier to no ask. I am always open to having people over but I rarely ask intentionally.

      • 3

        Fellow Introvert!!!

        There are a few things you can do, when you initially invite, you can mention a time, “come over from 6-9″ or something like that.

        I’ve also learned that it’s not rude to start ‘closing shop” if I feel a visit is nearing an end. I’ll stand up, tell them how happy I was that they came and talk about how maybe we can get together again.

        Think about it, EVERY conversation and visit you have at some point has an end because one of the people involved decided to say something that implied it was over. That person can be you sometime. Closing a conversation or visit is an art and it can be done without anyone even knowing what you are doing!

        As far as hospitality as a couple, we are both very sensitive to who we invite in. If for some reason my husband doesn’t connect the bold truth is, we probably don’t invite the people over again, connection goes both ways and I’m guessing they feel it too. That’s okay! Invite the people you can both connect to, listen to and enjoy!

    • 4
      Beth WIlliams says:

      I have the exact problem. My hubby and I–more him than me–are introverts. Being around a lot of people drains him.

      He has unusual hobbies for this area. He enjoys Oscar fish keeping, low frequency ham radio, playing computer war games, and reading. Most people in this area enjoy hunting, fishing, and gun shooting. Thus we don’t host a lot of people over.

  2. 5

    Myquillyn,
    Thank you for a very timely reminder…I wonder if I can get my husband to read your post? I have had a bevy of workmen in and out of my house fixing and replacing everything from the roof to the toilets. I don’t have a problem redirecting guests to the bathroom that works upstairs, but my husband is hesitant. I learned a while back that true hospitality focuses on those who come not those who live there. It’s about relationship not real estate. So, as you said, “Come anyway”.
    Blessings,
    Bev

  3. 6
    Kristen says:

    Myquillin , what a beautiful name you have! And a beautiful perspective as well! Thank you for this very timely reminder of the purpose of hospitality …. Relationships!

  4. 8
    Sharon says:

    Right before I read this entry, I wrote in my own journal, “Last night’s dinner with friends was so much fun, and it made me wonder why I always shy away from people and social events. I am really cheating myself, I think.”

  5. 9

    “We have people over so we can connect.” I love this! So many times I am ruffled when people come unannounced (or invited) into my messy, piled up laundry, dust-bunny filled world…but when the visit is over, I am always glad that they came. Because I miss connection…and I need it.

    And this quote: “There is no hospitality like understanding.” LOVE.

    Thank you so much for sharing this today. I needed the kick in the pants!

  6. 11
    Kendra says:

    Many years I felt this way and cheated myself the opportunity to meet and make great friends in our community. We lived in many places being military, but I always wanted everything perfect before entertaining. Now that we are were we plan to retire, I’ve gotten older and would like to think wiser, perfect isn’t for me anymore!! Come one come and close the bedroom doors;) Thanks for a nice read this morning.

  7. 12

    I have an awful story from my jr. high (or was it elementary?) days. I was home alone, and the doorbell rang. I tiptoed to the door, looked through the peephole, and saw my friend Glenda who lived two blocks away. I could tell from her expression that she was locked out of her house (forgot her keys, maybe) and wanted to be at my house until someone in her family came home. (This had happened before.) But I pretended I wasn’t home and DID NOT LET HER IN … because I was ashamed of how dirty and messy my house was. Glenda walked away and went to another friend’s house across the street.

    But I also have a happier story from a few years ago. :) I always liked when, after church, people invited us over for lunch—right then! So I did the same thing. While we were driving from church to home, I realized I didn’t have much to feed this family of five (and that our house was messy)! But by the time we got home, I had figured something out. (Grilled cheese sandwiches.)

    • 13

      I think both of those stories are so powerful and you are SO SMART to remember them and consider them, I think we all have stories like that and I love that they both made a difference in how your hospitableness as an adult!!

  8. 14

    Perfect reminder. Totally true. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

  9. 15

    I’m over here cheering you on and shouting “PREEEEACH!! LOVE IT!” in my head. Yes. People need love and community, not perfect kitchens. My husband and I joke and say that we need to invite people over at least once a year, so we can clean the house whether it needs it or not. ;) But it’s only a joke. The more we ignore our imperfect everything and just reach out to people, the more people respond and the deeper our friendships get. And sometimes people don’t even know how to reciprocate, but that’s ok. As we love on them, they start to learn what friendship looks like and it helps them heal too.

  10. 16

    I cannot agree with you more! Erma Bombeck, many years ago and BEFORE YOUR TIME, used to preach this same message: Don’t wait until your house is perfect to have company over because it will never be perfect enough!
    I purchased your book for my daughter and she loves it! She is practically your neighbor, residing in Statesville!
    Hope-ology – I ventured over there the other day and finally found out what I AM – a hopeologist. I am stuck like a dope on this thing called hope and I can’t get it out of my heart!!!! I believe I am going to join that little club – I loved it.
    So glad I found you by way of Ann V’s blog a couple of weeks ago.

  11. 18

    As an nearing retirement nester I have lost the joy I used to have in having friends come over. I can blame it on age, small home, even my fibromyalgia, but truthfully I think I’m just selfish. This has been weighing on my heart lately. Praying for wisdom as to who and when.

    • 19

      half the battle is just recognizing that joy is lost, so many people don’t ever move further than that, in whatever area it’s in. Praying for wisdom today for you Peggy and that your next guest will be a healing friend!

  12. 20

    I so needed to read this today! Thank You!! I am always so hesitant to invite friends and family over because I dwell too much on what’s not right in my house. But then I regret it later. Thank you for encouraging me to stop trying to make things just perfect, and to just invite and connect.

  13. 21

    It’s as though this were written straight out of my heart. Thank you and thank You God for reiterating what You have laid on my heart.

  14. 22

    I’ve struggled with this a bit this year. When my husband and I found this sturdy and spacious, yet outdated, home we were so thankful. I loved our humble beginning with patterned carpet in the KITCHEN and a pink and blue themed BATHROOM with SHAG CARPET! Then when things settled down a bit after the wedding and the move, I started to grow antsy and discontent. After almost eleven months living here, we still haven’t been able to change these features, and I am learning to open my home to others anyway. As long as I am the first one to make a joke about the carpet, then I’m typically okay! :)

  15. 24
    Gail Bertram says:

    Hi :) Well, it’s was my Time, instead of just reading I MADE MY FIRST COMMENT A FEW WEEKS AGO :) and I started with YOU. I’ve already INVITED you and YES, every morning when I wake up, make a cup of tea and there you are. My hair is a mess, odd PJ’s & we are sitting on my unmade bed lol :) CHATTING. Now that’s Up-Close and Personal :) A GREAT READ and AMAZING DOWN TO EARTH COMMENTS. What a way to start my day :) Thank You, Sisters and Thank You, Lord. I have a COMMUNITY <3 :) O' I have Tea with Milk and Honey ;) Gail

  16. 26

    “When I hesitate to invite people in, it’s usually because I forget that I can trust them.”

    This right here.

    I relate too well to these words…painfully so. I will forever be battling the temptations of the nurturing I grew up with to not trust anyone – anyone but my parents. Alas, however, I don’t even trust them to this day. Long story short, we have no connection any longer. It is a very long story – one I am in the midst of forming to write soon. but alas, I digress…for in my sharing this, I reveal a deep wound I have difficulty exposing: a deep challenge to trust wholly. To trust others with my whole self. Only a few have made it into the inner circle…and even then, it hurts at times to still invite them in. To our home, to see the residue of the mess I sometimes let it become because deep within the mess inside me gets the best of me – and it has nowhere else to go but out. But alas, not judgement from them ever comes. Love, compassion and grace as in the midst of those friends that are like family. But I hear God whispering to me to open up more…to more people…to enter into this community He designed me to be a part of. What will happen? Won’t I get hurt again? Oh, God, I don’t think I can endure that kind of pain again!

    Alas, here I am…stepping out. Stepping into the invitation you provided all of us to enter into your space for just a moment. Your words provide the courage I need to have stepping in…and then stepping back out into my own place in the world, and invite others into my space.

    Thank you for this invitation. Thank you for your courage. You have helped me remember…remember my why. ☺️

    • 27
      Gail Bertram says:

      Hi Marni :) Well said and your words and pain are mine also. Mine is also Rejection…IF I don’t Trust I want get rejected! I don’t even do Facebook friends… I came across In/Courage and open up my space also. OR perhaps that was God directing my steps (fingers ;) I’ll see you for a cup of tea :)

      • 28

        Marni, I love your honesty. That ‘residue of the mess’ is very real and we all have it, it just looks different for everyone. I’m so happy you’ve found friends who respond with love, compassion and grace, I hope you continue to invite them in.

        xoxo

  17. 29

    Thank you for speaking to where I am…..I struggle with hospitality due to focusing on me and mine. Fear is really the culprit. However, I will challenge myself and look for natural opportunities to try this very soon (with he guidance of the Holy Spirit). Thanks for the encouragement.

  18. 30

    Z. What are you afraid of?

  19. 31

    Love your heart! We are created to live in community. It has to be intentional and is rarely easy. Thank you for inspiring us!

  20. 32

    Thank you so much for this post. It was such a nice reminder. I’m still working at putting myself out there.

  21. 33

    Thank You for this…. God knew I needed to read ‘Come Anyway’ : ) I just sent a text to my close friend. This is what it said “this place needs an overhaul…working on it this weekend so I can have you gals over here for once”. Just after I pushed send I checked my email and read your ‘Come Anyway’. Thank you for sharing and God Bless.

  22. 34

    Sure would love some insight on living with an introvert that doesn’t like to have people over. We have been married for 24 years and rarely do I invite people in. I feel like I am dying inside a bit but have tried to put it aside and love the ones that are over, our family! We have three kids and they too enjoy the company of people. Loved the post and the comments, learning and looking for more wisdom.

    • 35

      Mb, does your husband know that you feel like you are dying inside a bit? I’d start there, if communicated gently and without a bunch of expectations (UGH so hard!) it could help, most husbands and wives usually want the other person to not feel like that so maybe it’s something that he could pick out a few friends to have over? Also, I can relate so much to him, although I LOVE having people over, in real life, outside my home or not in a one on one setting, I’m a really huge introvert too. But I’ve found that even with that, I NEED people, as uncomfortable as I am sometime, with the right mix, it’s very life giving for me.

  23. 36

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been convicted recently that I do need to be more hospitable, even though our home is usually swamped with books, papers, my art projects, dogs, and cats! So, while I’m organizing and rearranging, I’m going to listen and be open to opportunities to invite people to our home. Thank you for being open to God’s leading because I needed this reinforcement and I pray I can follow your example!

  24. 37

    I just discovered your blog the other day and have enjoyed reading it. I stumbled upon this post today and it strikes a chord with me. I realize that I have missed opportunities to let people into my home and my life as a result. It does make me sad. We had gotten to know a family who had children close in age to ours and only had them over once over several years. I knew them well enough to know that they would not judge us. I had thought of inviting them over for a casual dinner and game night on more than one occasion but the house was never tidy enough or the projects weren’t complete enough and I would convince myself that we would invite them when XYZ was done. They recently moved to another state and I regret that my need for the house to be a “certain way” prevented me from inviting them over and deepening that family friendship.

    Unhappiness with the state of my home and fear of judgment/rejection is indeed a factor that has contributed to keeping people on the outskirts of my life (and the life of my family). While I feel safe allowing our very closest family and long-time friends in (after all they will love us anyway)- we rarely host spontaneously and I almost never invite anyone new over. This has translated to my children’s school friends as well. They are always asking to have a school friend over and I am always finding excuses to say no. I realize that it is all about trust. We have a very small, simple, basic home that we bought so that we could afford payments on one income if necessary (which has been necessary at more than one point in the past ten years!). Further, we have had little budget to do the projects we dreamed of doing when we moved in. We live in an affluent area in which the homes that my children have been invited to are truly spacious and beautiful (and cost double or triple what ours cost). I know our home does not compare and I fear rejection, not for me, but for my kids. I don’t think the children will be judgmental but I fear their parents will be and it will translate into rejection of my kids. I realize that anyone that would be so shallow as to reject us based on our house not measuring up to some arbitrary standard is not the kind of person that I want as a friend for my children (or for myself) but I still have trouble going out on a limb. I pray for the wisdom to know who to trust and when to let them in.

    • 38

      PA, I am just a lurker but your message touched something inside me and I wanted to reply. You might be surprised what you have to offer your kids’ friends. As an example, we live in a neighborhood of older, modest homes. The family across the street is struggling with a lot of serious issues, and their son often comes over to our place just to get away from the chaos for a while (and has done so for a handful of years since he was quite young). We don’t have kids and so we don’t have toys or gaming consoles or sports equipment. But what we do offer him is a chance to see another way of living – where a husband and wife speak to each other with love and respect; a house full of books and classical music; where the small birds and beasts of the woods and garden are cared for and valued; the rewards of planting a living thing and watching it grow and thrive; a place to sit quietly with his own thoughts and figure out who he is. I mention these things because you may very well have similar things to offer your kids’ friends that they can’t get in their spacious and beautiful homes. It could be that a quiet afternoon of playing board games with your kids, and some polite attention from you as an adult, may be something these other kids have never experienced. I wish you the best as you work through this.

      • 39

        Lisa,

        Thank you for your kind response. It has made me reflect and I needed to!! I think you are right that what we can offer my kids’ friends is not at all dependent on having a fancy house (which is really just a building) but showing them a home that might be in the package of a modest house. What happens within the walls of a house can be more beautiful than the outward appearance of the house. I think you are right that what the kids will remember is how welcome they felt – not a perfect a spacious building. My kids need to build relationships with their school friends and I need to take a risk! I will pray for the courage to do it.

        Thank you again.

  25. 40
    Sarah C. says:

    Love. It.
    My hubby and I recently moved out on our own with our little boy into a smallish apartment. The whole idea of having people over was a huge hope of mine, since we’d finally have a place of our own, and yet we’ve now been there 3 1/2 months and haven’t invited anybody over, oh, save one night with one really close old friend who I realised lived across the street basically right after we moved. But the truth is now, I have curtains and pictures to hang,… and… that’s about all that stands in my way of having anybody over… except for my ideas of how we and ours might compare to them and theirs. But,… I told my hubby the other day, regardless of where we’ll be, or be moving to, in a year or so after our lease is over, (hoping and saving for a house) for now, we are here. So, let’s invite people over, enjoy having our own place, and invite others over to enjoy in it.
    So thank you for this push of encouragement to do just that.
    Hehe… and maybe if I just invite some people over… huhum… those curtains will find themselves on the walls a little quicker via my hubby. ;D

    …”so why keep wasting all that time waiting around?”

  26. 41

    So very true. I found you from Kathy’s cottage and am glad I came over.
    With a disabled older husband, and being a carer for him, it is harder now to arrange meals for friends. When we do, they are always lovely, even when my planned menu doesn’t quite work! Like all true friends they take you as they find you.

  27. 42

    Ummm I so needed this today. Being preggers with my third in four years and sick all the time, plus working full time has led to this mama being exhausted and yet feeling lonely. SOOOO if you don’t mind my one year old and three year old’s toys ALL over the place competing for space with my unfolded clean laundry then by all means I would love for you to come over. Learning the truth of how insecure I am and not wanting people to see that the dishes don’t get done instantaneously is eye opening. I am missing out on community because my house is messy and I am tired. boooo faith. booo! thanks Nester. love ya

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