I just wanted to hide. I wanted to be alone. I needed to be alone. I escaped into the bathroom, leaned my back against the door, unbuttoned the top button of my jeans and exhaled. In here, I could be myself. I didn’t have to carry the conversation, suck in my gut, worry about how loud the kids were being, or keep the party going. I didn’t have to balance the topics of conversation like I was walking a tight rope. Anxiety rippled through me when a guest would bring up religion, politics, or women’s rights. I was always on the other end pulling people back to the center, casually swaying the tide of hot topics back to the weather, sports, or how well the kids could color.
I love hosting, but this year I would do it differently. No more escaping to the bathroom like years before. No more controlling conversations or people. No more trying to meet everyone’s expectations. This year would be different.
I rolled out the butcher paper across my dining room floor. With makers and artistry, I had one agenda — change the way I approached hospitality this Thanksgiving. One phrase kept coming to my mind as I prepared for the thirty people who would be coming over for our traditional barbecue turkey, homemade cranberry juice, and sweet apple pie. This phrase was for our family and friends, but it was mostly for me. It would be my mantra. I would repeat it when worry would creep in and fear would tempt to cripple me.
Across the paper, I wrote these words: You don’t have to be okay to be here. It wasn’t the prettiest sign, but it conveyed the message perfectly. With scotch tape and a stool, I tapped this sign to my front door. I stepped back and smiled inside. This year really would be different.
I am so tempted to make other people feel okay, to carry the weight of managing potential tensions. I want everyone to feel at peace, happy, and known. I want to protect people from stepping on toes or topics that are triggers. When I give into this temptation, I always feel anxiety. Anxiety is trying to control the uncontrollable. In reality, I can’t control what people say, feel, or think. I can’t protect people from their pain.
But I can do this: I can release people back to Jesus. I can let God hold them, care for their needs, and comfort their souls. I am not God. I can never love others as well as He does. I can, however, invite people into my home. I can give people a place to come out of hiding. I can love them without trying to fix them. I can let their mess spill out into the conversation without cleaning up behind them or doing damage control. I can let people be themselves.
I don’t have the spiritual gift of cooking or hosting or decorating the table. But I can let go of my need to control the environment, people, and their experiences. I can trust that if I open my doors in love, that love will, in fact, meet them — that Thanksgiving will be different. Maybe not for the company, but for me. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be okay. I can just show up in love, release control, and trust that God is on a mission to love everyone who walks through my doors.
What anxiety do you need to let go of this Thanksgiving?
Maybe you need to hear this today: You don’t have to be okay to be here. -Anjuli Paschall: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
What a great message. We don’t celebrate thanksgiving here in NZ of course because it’s your holiday!! But I think your message can be used for any occasion, space or situation. I’m going to try and intertwine this mantra into my life and with others! I know that’s how Jesus feels
You don’t have to be ok to be here…
To let people be themselves and to not and try and fix their problems but I can listen and let Jesus step in and do the hard stuff. I need Jesus to do that with me!! I need to hear him
I am kind of a control freak so it is so hard for me to “let go.”
I hope you get to experience Thanks Giving one day! Thank you for sharing your heart here.
Love this so much!!! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing and relating!
You’re welcome, Jessica. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends!
This is so very true: invite people into my home. I can give people a place to come out of hiding. I can love them without trying to fix them. I can let their mess spill out into the conversation without cleaning up behind them or doing damage control. I can let people be themselves.
If I prepared everything but without love, it all become meaningless. I can trust that if I open my doors in love, that love will, in fact, meet them.
I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be okay. I can just show up in love, release control, and trust that God is on a mission to love everyone who walks through my doors.
Linda, it reminds me of the 1 Cor. passage… but the greatest of these is LOVE.
lovely message. it’s ok to be ok..all the time !! I fully understand. I didn’t join a ladies bible study because I felt on edge with most areas..religion ; women’s rights and on and on…so I stayed home made a pot of tea & divided into my bible.
I feel that it’s ok to just be ourselves too and honestly if us ladies could show that to others it would change our fake world !
Thank you, Krissy.
I hope you have a beautiful thanksgiving!
Well spoken, Anjuli! I won’t be hosting our Thanksgiving celebration, but I will be attending. Thank you for your encouraging words.
I hope you are a wonderful Thanksgiving and find freedom to be yourself as you enter another persons home!
Oh, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I really, really needed this – not for Thanksgiving, but for today! I live with 2 people who are not at ease with each other and anxiety crept in this morning as I attempted once again to “make” everything feel okay, when in truth I cannot. Thank you so much for reminding me that what is out of my control is not mine to hold onto! I release the situation back into your hands, Jesus!
I love that this message hit so close to home. Praying you find daily freedom!
Thank you for sharing this. I agree that this is how Jesus wants us to live. Blessings to you!
This is brilliant and so real! I am going to do the same when I have people over.
Thank you so much! I grew up in a family of perfectionists and pretending everything is grand all the time.
The pressure to put on the happy face is one of the reasons I have neglected having company for several years.
Not doing it anymore.
I hope you find more and more freedom. Christ gives us everything we need. I find so much hope and peace when I know He accepts me as I am.
Becky Keife says
“I don’t have the spiritual gift of cooking or hosting or decorating the table. But I can let go of my need to control the environment, people, and their experiences. I can trust that if I open my doors in love, that love will, in fact, meet them…” This is echos my heart. Yes, friend. Yes, to letting people show up and pointing them to love without trying to manage or control anyone’s emotions or outcomes.
Love this and you. So glad you’re here.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
You don’t have to perfect. You just have to be you. The beautiful person God made you too be. You don’t have to put on any airs or graces or pretend to someone your not. Just be yourself. Plus remember you are a Daughter of the King. All that matters is what Jesus says about you. Not Family People or Friends. God made you in his own image. To be you to shine for him. It took me a long time to understand that. I thougt in front of my unsaved family who have money nice clothes nice houses able to go on fancey holidays. Which I can’t afford. I had to try and when with them put up a front. Then my Salvation Army Officer said no Dawn you are Gods Child he loves you just the way you are. You are a Daughter of the king. All there fancy stuff your family have will not get them into the Kindgom of Heaven. At least you Dawn know you are saved and have your home with Jesus when you leave earth they don’t. That spoke volumes to me in what my Salvation Army Officer said. As that is so true. One day one of my Aunts was showing me on her mobile phone my Cousin new home what she thought was big fancy house. I was not a bit intreasted in it. Had it out of me. I said it will not get her to Heaven. My Aunt that day looked at me. Then said what did you say. I said it not get her heaven. None of my family saved expected my Husband. My Aunt got a shock at me saying that. I live in a simple we house that nothing fancy. As I know and believe you can’t take it with you anyway when you leave this world. There are people in this world who don’t even have a roof over their heads. I am thank full. On to God for the we house I have. That I am saved. I pray for all my family’s Salvation’s. People of the world want bigger and better houses and bigger and better cars phones computers etc. Some will even get into debt to have it. That is silly. When there are people out there in our world starving. People in our Hospitals ill with all the money in world they give it away to be made well. But can’t. I and my Husband tithe the first 10th of everything to Gods work. We are thank full to God for everything he gives us. As he gave us the money to buy the house we have. So we give back to God and his work helping his people. You don’t have to be ok in the worlds eyes. Only Gods eyes. I so glad to be saved. Where would we be without. God. Excellent reading again. Dawn Ferguson-Little
Your comment was such a breath of fresh air. I can breathe in and out freely knowing that God has His eyes set on me. I am overwhelmed by the beautiful truth of that message. Thank you for taking the time to speak such wisdom into my life! We are so blessed by the love of the Father. May you have a fabulous Thanksgiving and soak in the joy of His love.
Oh I just love this! Thanks Anjuli! Perfect words to read before the start of the season ❤️
Beth Williams says
God made us for community. He wants/expects us to commune with each other. We must remember that we are each uniquely made. We all have varying beliefs, likes, etc. Thanksgiving, especially, is a time for family & friends to gather feast on a nice meal & give thanks to God for the great harvest/jobs. etc that He has provided this year. My pastor & his wife invite “solo”-those who are alone on holidays-over to their house for Thanksgiving & Christmas. It is a pot luck meal. We all sit around the nice table thank God for His wonderful love toward us. Then we get to talk & enjoy some company. The point is to be with others & enjoy some fun conversation. God’s view of hospitality doesn’t rest on everything & everyone being ok. He just wants us to commune & show love to others. Point them to the true love of Christ. There is no anxiety to let go of here. My motto is “Martha Stewart” doesn’t live here. I am who God made me. Let’s enjoy this time.
Angela Honea says
I CANNOT EVEN begin to tell you how you described me exactly. I mean, this is me. To read this is so freeing. I have read it twice and probably will several more times. I need to hear these words daily. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I NEED people like you in my life. ❤️