Is your front door open? It might cost you and it might be messy. An open door may let in pain but it may also let in some wonderful relationships. We have experienced both.
Like many parents we tried to be the home where friends were always welcome and invited over for a meal or the night or just to hang out for a while. It is good to get well acquainted with your children’s friends. We aren’t “open” only to children and teens. We often have families, couples and singles come too. It is our goal to be welcoming and help our guests feel comfortable.
One day a friend stopped by unannounced. She was our pastor’s wife. She was thrilled to discover my house in a state of disarray. It actually made her feel more comfortable than when the house was in perfect order. Her response holds several big lessons: 1. People don’t come to inspect your housekeeping, they come to see you. 2. Don’t wait to have company until you have repainted, or redecorated, or have all matching dishes, or repair the broken arm on the dining room chair. 3. People are uncomfortable when you apologize for the condition of your home. Doing so makes them feel they have imposed on you. 4. Be clean enough that people are comfortable and know you want them there. 5. People love homemade meals, even simple meals.
Allowing many friends and guests in your home provides valuable opportunities for your children to learn how to be gracious hosts and how to be hospitable. It can also teach them how to behave and how not to behave when they are someone’s guest. If your children behave well when they are the guests, they will receive more invitations to come again.
Sometimes having guests can lead to things getting broken or worse. It is a risk. We all felt abused and violated when one of our sons’ closest friend decided to steal money from their banks in their room. Another friend accidentally fell into the glass doors of a display cabinet while roller skating in the basement. Indoor roller skating was an approved activity, just not the crashing part. A couple of years ago a teenage girl ran directly through a sliding screen door which she had not noticed in the doorway.
Having people in our home does put us in a vulnerable position. We may be taken advantage of again. But we may also have opportunity to be an example of a loving family or develop life-long reciprocal friendships. It is a worthwhile risk.
Last Christmas two of our young grandsons brought me a mug that was knocked down and broken as a result of their playing. I took it and threw it in the garbage. “Thanks for bringing it to me, “ I said. At that point one boy said to the other, “See, I told you she wouldn’t get mad.” Things happen. Things get broken. I choose to preserve relationships.