“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.”
– Deb Caletti –
Bare branches in the trees are diamond crusted this morning. Hanging low and happily yellow, the sun smiles at its reflection in the powdered sugar snow.
That’s what I need, for sure.
Welcome is my word of the year, as I explained in my last post.
But I didn’t anticipate how far into me it would reverberate. I especially didn’t anticipate how much I would need to change.
But, now I see…Welcome can’t come into my life if I stay the same.
To grow a heart of welcome in me, God has to do some furniture rearranging. A dear friend of mine is currently living with my family. Today, she reminded me that welcoming in means we have to move some things out of the house. It means a bit of winter cleaning. It means we might bump into the furniture a little, because it’s in a place it has never been before.
But I learned something today about welcome—it is not just for the new people.
Sometimes, doors in your heart get partly shut. Sometimes, the hinges get a little rusty. And sometimes we avoid some halls in our hearts. They’re a part of us…but we cease to welcome them.
Maybe it is more tragic to be an insider who is not welcomed than it is to be an unwelcome newcomer.
I realized that, in my pursuit of welcome, my family was losing me. Somehow, my most favorite people were getting shut out.
It began when I decided not to tell a family member about certain thoughts or feelings, because I didn’t think they would understand. So gradually, I bumped that door, closing it more and more…
Until this morning, they came face-to-face with me, and I confessed that I feared telling them my true thoughts, because I didn’t want my feelings to be dismissed. They were shocked and saddened that I had not opened my heart-door and told them before.
I had been wrapping myself in silence–in a lack of welcome–in this relationship. And it took a toll. In my reluctance to bring them into my inner self, I pushed them away. I shut my door. I was slowly eroding a priceless relationship, by my own self-focus.
So I took a risk, when I confessed my hiding today.
And the sun came out, glistening on the snow.
Are relationships hard? Absolutely. Are they messy? Sure. Sometimes it seems better to hold certain thoughts inside…it seems safer. Definitely less complicated.
But love often means sharing anyway, making your feelings vulnerable to criticism…and also open to understanding. Love means you welcome the other person into your heart anyway. It means you risk getting hurt..but it also means you open yourself up to grace.
Don’t stuff it all in and walk away from conversations frustrated that, once again, they do not understand you. How could they? You never told them.
I think we can hide from our families, even while rubbing shoulders with them every day. We can put walls up to keep ourselves safe, exhausting ourselves with needless protectiveness.
So I am posting a new welcome sign on my heart:
Welcome, family. You, too, are welcome in my heart. In fact, I’ll make you duplicates of my key, okay? Then you can come in whenever you like.
In fact, could you come right away? I’ve been missing you.
If you are joining me on the journey to Welcome this year, how are you doing in your family? Have you shut a door in your heart? Is there a hallway barricaded? What old relationship needs a little oil and polish?
Don’t shut out your biggest fans. God gave you to them for a reason. He can give you the grace to open the door again.
Why don’t you ask Him right now?
“He gives families to the lonely, and releases prisoners from jail, singing with joy!”
– Psalm 68:6, TLB –