homes and houses

A quote from Agnes Calkins, my best friend, abroad in Europe, blogger extraordinaire, natural blonde:

The weird thing is, I kind of liked how miserable it was. Because in Luxembourg everything is grey and miserable but people pretend that it’s not, and in Poland people seem more honest cause they’re like, “Yeah we’ve been bombed, invaded and beaten up, but it’s okay, come have some soup.” I like that.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt this way before – beaten up, bombed, miserable, grey (Agnes spells it grEy, with an E, which I think is cool and European).  Agnes and I see things in similar lights a lot of the time, that’s why we’re best friends; that and Providence.  Let’s get back to Agnes’s words, though.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in someone’s house in which touching the walls is against the rules, you can only drink water outside the kitchen, shoes beyond the foyer is essentially a sin, and if you even think the word “dirt” you’re exiled.  Anyone?  Thought so.  How miserably uncomfortable is this place?  It could be immaculate, beautifully decorated, ready for a magazine shoot at any moment – but in no way shape or form is this a home.  A dwelling place, maybe, but definitely not a home.  A home isn’t a place where both your feel are always on the floor when you sit on the couch, right?  I think I’ve made my point. I’m going to move on.

So often, I see my parents…who am I kidding?  I do this too.  Just the other day I did this.  Here’s what I do.  I know people are coming over, so I quickly shove all of my shoes under the bed, straighten up my books, put away my makeup (we wouldn’t want guests to know we try to look good, now would we?), fling my dirty clothes into the closet, and open the door with a smile.  Now, in many ways, this is common courtesy.  But isn’t it common knowledge that, for the most part, we’re all messy, a little bruised – in one capacity or another, we all have our mail scattered around the kitchen, mud under the rug, and enough dog hair in the carpet to make a wig.  Each and every one of us, despite our best efforts, have some things out of place.  But isn’t it wonderful to walk into a home (a home) in which you feel comfortable?  A home where the milk may or may not have expired a day or two ago, but that’s okay; where there is a dog, and sometimes it sits by the table while you eat, because even if they deny it, it’s owners slip them food under the table sometimes.  This is a home I’d want to be invited into, wouldn’t you?

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my family bounced around from house to house, kissing cheeks, eating until we died (figuratively), etc. and I noticed something: at the beginning of every gathering, everyone stands in the kitchen (maybe not always the kitchen, but…well, it doesn’t matter) holding their drinks, feeling a bit apprehensive about the event that is budding.   But as soon as the first person sets their drink down on the table, leaving a ring of moisture around the base, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. As soon as the barrier between hard-working-hostess’-perfect-house and half-empty-glasses-scattered-everywhere is broken, it’s so much easier, right?  You can talk about things  besides the weather.  So wonderful.

Here’s where I’m going with this: aren’t we all longing for the ability to set our glasses down, laugh at the mildly inappropriate joke on Modern Family and fall asleep on the couch?  Don’t we all want to be able to reveal ourselves without having to clean everything up beforehand, fearing that our imperfections will scare away our visitors?  I want that. I need that. And, by grace, I found it. Romans 5:6-8.

6For(J) while we were still weak, at the right time(K) Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but(L) God shows his love for us in that(M) while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let’s break this down: For while we were still weak – while we still hadn’t run the vacuum or dusted the mantel – Christ died for the ungodly – Jesus came in the front door, His voice booming “I’M HOME AND I LOVE YOU!”  If that isn’t comfortable, I’m not sure what is.  Isn’t this something we all need?  Someone to come in and say “I’m so happy to see you!” even though you haven’t showered since Wednesday and your dishes are piling up over the sink; someone to bring you soup while you sit like a lump on a log, crying over whatever deserves your tears.  Friends, it’s there, He’s there.  He WANTS your misery, He WANTS your bruises and scars.  So will you open the door?  Or are you just going to keep throwing your dirty socks into your overflowing closet?


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