During my time apart from this little place, I read Shauna Niequist‘s new book, Bread & Wine. I mean, if we’re telling the whole truth, I cried throughout the entire book. Something about her little stories just break me down! This book touched a really interesting part of me that I have just been ignoring: my inherent need for community. You see, Joe and I left an extraordinary group of friends in Virginia, and moved to New York where we didn’t know very many people at all. It’s been fun hanging out just the two of us, but at the end of the day we both crave that relationship with other friends. We miss bottles of wine around the table and after church lunches and baby showers and basketball games. We just miss our friends. The thing is, we aren’t going back to Virginia, at least not anytime soon, so we made a conscious decision to start to build a community here in New York.
I grew up in an entertaining household, my sweet southern Momma always fed friends, and their friends and our friends and people we didn’t know but were coming into town. We had a full, happy household that bred community and love and encouragement- the same things that I long to emulate here in our house. But have you ever tried to just create friends? It’s a real challenge in this city- and probably even in a small city! But friends are what keep you from feeling miniscule and futile in a place as big as New York City. Friends encourage you and support you and help you rebuild your patio (thanks Catie, Scott and Amy!) and eat dinner with you in the snow. You have to have those people around you, you just do. But it’s hard, isn’t it? Putting yourself out there, inviting people over, cooking a meal, it’s all much harder than just sitting at home watching the new season of Arrested Development.
Anyways, there is a chapter in Bread & Wine where Shauna is talking about the shame women often feel in just opening their door to people. She means it literally, I think we have all felt at one point that our homes weren’t good enough for entertaining, but she also talks about it in a way that made me realize I’m keeping that door shut for more reasons than just because my chairs aren’t recovered-
“This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively. One friend promises she’ll start having people over when they finally have money to remodel. Another says she’d be too nervous that people wouldn’t eat the food she made, so she never makes the invitation. But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the richest moments in life- the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love- if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway…”
I need people. You need people. We need community around us to celebrate birthdays and to cry with over tragedy and to toast to promotions and new jobs. We have to open that door and let people into the messiest places in our lives. We have to feed them and pray with them and even if we have to say, “excuse the mess!” we need to let them in.
So, who wants to come over for dinner? Our patio isn’t done, but you bring the wine and I’ll make a beautiful Summer salad and Joe will grill us burgers and chicken. I’m free all weekend, and I’m not kidding.
Also, thank you to the comments, e-mails, gchats and text messages that I got yesterday. I’m just so encouraged.