I lived behind self-built, fortified walls of security erected in fear — closed-hearted, closed handed, closed-doored. I would tell God, “I love you, but not your people.” I’d keep people out of my life and out of my home. I was okay living that way, until I wasn’t.
There is no joy in living a closed life. It’s an unhappy, lonely way to live. Those same walls that kept love from pouring out, also kept love from pouring in.
Matthew in the Message helped me see things differently.
“Keep open house;
be generous with your lives.
By opening up to others,
you’ll prompt others to open up with God…”
What if I open up, and become unveiled? What if I do not let fear keep me from sharing struggles, my story, my messy home and heart? What if opening up would help someone else open their life to God?
Then it is worth the risk.
I could tell you stories and stories of how opposite “keeping open house” is of my nature. By default, I’m acutely private. But “keep open house” also means keeping open-heart, even the broken, unfinished, unkept parts. The door to my heart still likes to swing shut, and I’m tempted to keep it bolted, with no welcome mat out front.
Everyday, I have to be intentional about keeping it open.
Sometimes, keeping open my literal house is harder.
The upstairs and downstairs are never ever tidy at the same time.
There are countless projects that are incomplete.
There are drywall repairs that need to be made.
There are drywall patches that need to be painted.
And dust blankets every square inch of the house.
You’ve not seen dust until you’ve lived on a country dirt road.
And it keeps me from inviting you over for dinner.
You see, I’ve been in homes that belonged in magazines that only made me feel shame for my own. And I’ve been in homes that were rather unkept, and the owner make excuses for the mess, and then I felt embarrassed for them.
And I’ve been in homes that were lived in, unclean, and untidy, but warm and welcoming. The owner was comfortable in her space, unworried about me being there seeing her real-life-living-mess, and without excuse or embarrassment. It put me at ease.
Do you understand what that is like?
If they were okay with their mess on the outside, then maybe they’d be okay with my mess on my inside. That feels a lot like relief, and a lot like grace.
I want to be like that.
My heart and my home will always be a work in progress, and I have to be okay with that. It doesn’t say keep an open “perfect” house.
Simply, keep open house.
Photo Credit: my friend Claire Riss