I live my life unlocked. At least I try to. When we were first married my husband and I took a trip to San Francisco and did all of the touristy things. Except for the prison. I just couldn’t get on a ferry and end up in prison. But we did the chocolate and the pier and the trolleys and the bridge and all of the not going to prison things. One of the days after waiting in line for a bazillion hours for the trolley to come, I started to pass out popcorn to people.Random people. Every people. I had a large bag of popcorn and figured if my stomach was growling than theirs was too. This was the first glimpse that my husband had at my “there is no stranger in this world” policy. He stood back and watched me walk around and just offer to feed people. No strings attached, just buttery caramel hands and hungry bellies.
When we moved into our 100+ year old house ten years ago the first thing that I pointed out to him was how old the doors were. They were the original large plated glass doors with the original, maybe Abraham Lincoln touched them, door handles. Don’t judge, I am not good with history or numbers, I am just guessing.
Anyways, I made it very clear that we could not lock our doors. I didn’t want anyone breaking in and smashing the windows. So in my mind it was better to always leave our doors unlocked. My mother thinks I am crazy but I think it just is how I live. How I want to live. And how I want to teach my kids to live.
That our doors are always open. We live our lives unlocked.
As someone who had to wear her friends mothers clothing for an eighth grade dance ( yes you read that correctly) I know what it is like to not quite fit in. To stand on the outside looking in.
So I always wanted to make sure that my home was always too small to fit all the people I love.
And then this summer happened.
I felt like someone punched me in the stomach and then held my head underwater.
Parenting became the hardest it has ever been. The ugliness that Satan wanted to kill and destroy everything in my marriage and family came boiling up to the surface. We felt like everything we had ever read in stupid parenting books never had a chapter on what we were facing. ( I also think that if you have not lived through teenagers you should not be writing parenting books. Ok. Now I will step off my soapbox).
Oh right, and then we left our church of twelve years.
Maybe not the perfect time to make that choice but it is where God was pushing us and everything in me wanted to pull back.
For the first time in my life I wanted safe. I wanted to lock my doors and stop sharing popcorn. I wanted to hide under my covers and binge watch every episode of anything on Netflix just to disconnect.
When my soul was aching to connect.
I was feeling all of the feelings. I had just started reading “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans and was screaming from the underneath the covers and locked doors “AMEN”!
I wanted someone to talk to and understand all of the feelings that felt to shameful to say.
When the kids went back to school and I was left by myself for the first time in eighteen years I realized that the pity party I was throwing for myself was getting lonelier and lonelier.
During all of my un-showered partying time I read over the years of therapy notes that I had written, hoping that something I had heard would make me want to get out of bed.
And then I read this….. “ Create what you need…….do not wait for others to give you what you expect…..create it”
It was also during this time that everyone had started arguing about whether we should allow refugees into our country. I may or may not have lost friends online and had family members block me. They had forgotten where I lived. That our block is filled with refugee families and some of our dearest friends are from other countries with stories that they could never fathom.
So it made me feel even more feelings. And a lot of them were anger.
And then one day I showered. And I got out of bed. Well I got out of bed first.
And I created what I needed.
I needed community.
I needed a safe community.
I needed grace.
I needed people who owned their brokenned.
I needed a space to be heard.
So I unlocked the doors and I started making popcorn.
Well, I made coffee. But you get it.
I made coffee and tea and bought pastries from a local bakery and I prayed over my table that people would come.
The first week eight people came.
And since then every week there have been more people.
More people and different people.
It is one of the most sacred times of my life. Opening up my home and gathering others around the table.
No expectations. No agenda. No judgement.
Just grace and caffeine.
Since I started this I have gotten so much feedback. Friends from around the country wishing they lived closer. People loving the idea wishing they could come. Wishing they could do the same.
We all can. We can find one morning a week to open our homes. To not worry about the crayon on the walls or the dust on the lamp that has been there since the first Bush was president. It doesn’t matter.
People want to feel welcome and welcome doesn’t mean clean.
In fact when people’s houses are perfect and clean I feel really uncomfortable. Maybe that is just the type B in me but for the love throw some cheerios on the floor!
One of the greatest gifts we can give people is hospitality. Jesus met the people he loved at the table. Not a perfectly set dining set. He met them in their brokenness. He met the outcasts and the prostitutes. He met the confused and frustrated. He met the questioning and the seeking. He met them all.
I want to be a home that mercy draws you in and grace finds you a seat at the table.
Will you join me? Will you be brave and unlock your doors?