Inviting people in

We're always 'ohana at Mitzie and Robert's home. December 2006

As Tammy and Matt agree, we’re always ohana at the Puakea home. December 2006

“I allow my fear of embarrassment to stop me from hostessing anyone.  I tell myself it’s fine, it’s just not ‘my thing,’ but I actually think that’s a weak excuse.  Because there are things we should do, regardless of whether they are our favorite ‘things’ or not…I think inviting people into your home, whether it’s an impeccable mansion or a rusty old shack, is probably an important practice.”  – Glennon Doyle Melton

One of the most important things we can do to defeat despair — and to help others to do the same — is to let people in.  Into our lives, into our hearts, and yes, into our homes.  Even when our homes aren’t exactly ready for prime time.

My house is a wreck right now, even more so than usual.  In fact, all the piles of stuff that used to make a crazy sort of sense to me do not make sense to me any more.  There’s nothing for it but to plow into it as I have time, clean up, clear away and in the meantime, LIGHTEN UP on the inside.  Translation: even as I go about cleaning up, I can’t get impatient with myself because, compared to what’s been going on the past two months, and some of the other stuff that is still going on, this housekeeping stuff is SO unimportant.

This is not to say that I don’t clean things up when we have people over.  In fact, Jeff and I have always joked, “The house is really messy, we need to invite some people over” because that makes us prioritize tidying up.  But when people come over a few times, you stop worrying about it. There’s nothing like having someone in your home, and going into theirs, to let you get to know them in a way you won’t get to know them anyplace else.  And pretty soon, the superficial stuff doesn’t matter much.

When we go to each other’s homes, we see each other’s pets and furniture and art and projects and notes on the fridge.  We sit in their chairs and on their floors and at their tables, and laugh and talk and sometimes sing and pray together, and just soak in who they are in their natural surroundings. There’s nothing really like it, and I think one reason people are so crazy nowadays is that we don’t do enough of this type of thing anymore.  There are too many electronic substitutes for being with friends.  But they can’t replace face time.

Our friends Mitzie and Robert are wonderful examples to us when it comes to hospitality.  These people have more folks into their home than anyone I know.  Maybe it’s Mitzie’s heart of gold or Robert’s Hawaiian heritage, but they are like professional friend-makers and they bring people together all the time.  They host church groups and community groups and their sons’ friends, and at least once a year they have a big luau for local mainland Hawaiians and wannabe Hawaiians, complete with live music and food and more laughter than you can imagine and even a pig roasted in the genuine Hawaiian way.  I’ve never seen their home messy but the truth is I don’t think anyone would notice if it was. You walk in the door and it’s like you are ohana; you are home.

We have many other friends who are like them, and set a good example for us.  Two of them, Tammy and J.J., are coming over tomorrow for awhile, just to see us.  I won’t have anything special fixed to eat (although I’ll offer them tea 🙂 ) and you can bet the house will still be bordering on eligibility for a hoarders show, but I’m not worried about it, because we’ve been in each others’ homes so many times now they feel like family.

I hope you have people like that, people who can drop in anytime, no matter whether you’re ready for company or not.  I also hope you will join me in resolving to open your home to friends and potential friends.  It doesn’t have to be anything big (unless you enjoy that type of thing) — it can just be pizza and conversation.  A board game and snacks.  Whatever.

I admit that often, before people come over, Jeff and I get nervous and grouchy and run around trying to clean everything up and get everything ready, and we don’t usually feel totally prepared when the doorbell rings.  But we have never, ever, ever NOT felt happier afterwards.  It’s magical.

Do you have anyone you’d like to invite to your home, but have been putting it off for one reason or another?  Try moving that up on your list of priorities, and see what happens.  And if someone invites you to come to their home, try carving out time to go.  Let me know how it goes!

One year ago today

The ordinary arts

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Rene

    At our former pastor’s request, we used to hold an evening Bible study in our home (which sounds very similar to your description). Oh, how I used to hate the frenzied clean-up every Wednesday; but wasn’t I happy in the evening while the study was going on!

    • Rene, that’s us, exactly. I never saw Jeff happier than when a big crew of people had been at our home and the air was still ringing with the laughter and conversation. Some of my very best memories are of those sweet times with friends, in our home or theirs. Truly a glimpse of heaven, I think.

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