About a month ago, I came home after a long day of work and meetings and to-dos and was met with the most wonderful scene in our kitchen.
Friends. Jammed together happily around our little kitchen table.
A din of chatter echoed through the house, and music played in the background. Homework and water bottles and cookies rendered our table top invisible. Everyone was all spread out, just doing their thing. Grading papers. Studying. Doodling.
The people I live with are also my dear friends, so evenings like these are common. We host gatherings, some planned, some spontaneous. We collapse onto the couch at the end of the day and reheat leftovers side-by-side, celebrating the built-in community we have in simple ways.
I’m more and more in awe of the gift it is to live in a home with this kind of culture. This is something we prayed for. In the car, on the phone, and over text messages last winter, we asked: God, let our home be a place where you are honored. God, let this be a place of comfort and rest, where friends feel welcome just as they are. God, let this be a place where we learn more about your true character through meals and books, studying and conversation, laughter and late-night honesty.
Our prayers have, undoubtedly, been answered. God is at work in a strong and palpable way in this place.
In our home, we love games and snacks and sweatpants. We make (and drink) full pots of coffee on lazy weekend mornings, mug after mug disappearing. We turn on the football game and spread out around the TV to work and do crafts. Our house is a place where we can relax, but also where friends and family and out-of-town guests can come to rest and play and be nourished as well.
Our house is full of mismatched furniture, but there is a unity there. Two-week-old party decorations still grace the living room walls, but there is grace in the imperfection of it. It’s never a place where I have to put on my best behavior or best outfit, and I pray that others never feel that way, either.
This is place where I can show up, fully.
I’ve been thinking about that phrase lately – showing up. It’s a buzzword in our home, borrowed from a favorite author. When things are tricky or hard or we straight-up don’t feel like leaving the house, we encourage each other with that. Just keep showing up.
Today has got me thinking about that.
I desire for my home to be a place where friends can come in without knocking, can show up exactly as they are.
Do I allow myself and my heart to be open in the same way?
Do I share my true opinions with grace, even if it isn’t cool or in agreement with others?
Do I show up – mind and spirit – in my life and relationships, or do I let distraction get the best of my energy?
I long to show up fully in my life, in this season more than ever. As a person of faith, I want my heart to resemble the heart of our little home. Welcoming. Open. Arms-wide-open. A port in the storm. A shelter and a gathering place. Willing to give and take.
I want to trust my close friends by sharing my full self, trusting that this is a good and sacred practice, and that vulnerability and freedom from me begets vulnerability and freedom in others.
I want my heart and my spirit to be a place where my friends feel seen and rested and known.
On that particular, ordinary Tuesday evening last month, when I came home to our bustling kitchen table, I dropped my stuff and joined right in. And right in the middle of a messy table and a weekday evening of papers and lists and projects, I sorta got it – why the showing up is both good and sacred.
We show up because God does.
We let people in, we share our stories and we practice honesty, because Jesus modeled these practices in his life on earth. He let people in to his presence with a fullness and an up-front honesty. He kept the screen door open. He invited people around the table on ordinary Tuesdays, welcoming people of all kinds to sit and be nourished.
We don’t have to fear the raw, because God goes there with us. We can show up as a friend’s world is rocked by the storm of grief or confusion or self-doubt, and we can sit with it. We can listen as Jesus listens, his presence ever-close to us.
We go to small group or coffee or that one awful meeting, even if it’s cold outside, even if the couch is calling. Because we trust that our actions and the things we give our time to are eternally valuable and seen by the God who cares deeply for each and every detail.
We show up because God does.
My friend, I commend you. You are so awesome. Today, you showed up. You opened the door of your spirit to the work of the day, allowing your coworkers and friends and even strangers to come in, imperfect and close to your heart.
You drove to work before the sun came up. You greeted your colleagues with a welcoming smile. You wrote, you called, you juggled tasks. You taught. You cared well for young minds and hearts. You sent the email and designed the flyer.
The Holy Spirit was able to plant more beauty and truth in our aching world today because you allowed him to use you as his vessel.
Today, you showed up. And in that, you lived out the fullness of your beautiful created nature in God’s image. You showed up just as our Father God does – an imperfect reflection, but a beautiful one. This is an honorable thing, my friend.
Thank you for letting others in to your heart, your life, your kitchen table. Thank you for being honest about who you are – more so with every passing day – and for sharing that with others. Thank you for teaching me about God’s faithfulness in the way that you’ve faithfully shown up today and so many days before.
Friends, let us be the people of the messy, weeknight kitchen table. The revolving door.
Let us be the showing up kind of people. Welcoming. Open. Arms-wide-open. A port in the storm. A shelter and a gathering place.
Let us be the people that come together at the end of the day around the table, imperfect but fully ourselves.
Let us show up, just as we are, to the throne of grace each new day, and then again the next.