On many occasions in the life of our family, we have opened our doors and spare bedrooms to friends and family. The length of stays were as varied as the reasons, but we love welcoming others in our home. The fundamental motivation for me has always been a firm belief that if I have two, and you need one, my call is to share. Some wise fellow came up with that idea.
For the first two years in our house, our 4 bedroom house had empty rooms. It bothered me from the first day we owned our home as I felt we should share our space. Apparently that stirring never went away because on many occasions, I have extended invitations to fill our rooms. Even after kids, I continually listened as people expressed needs for a room, and more importantly the need for family.
The first guests were in our home for a few months as they transitioned to college, interned in their college field of study and prepared for the next season of life. After good experiences, we began to listen intently for friends that were in periods of change. It was our prayer that if for a season we could take the financial burden of rent off the worry list, perhaps our home could be a bridge to further education, additional savings and new life goals.
During a 5 year span coinciding with my early sobriety, we hosted three different friends for varying lengths of stay. During all of these experiences, I grew. Sometimes, it was out of desperation. Sometimes, it was because I knew that someone else was seeing life inside our home. Whatever the motivation, I’m so thankful for the lessons. Some of the best of these takeaways include:
- The not-so-subtle reminder that I am selfish. I like what I like, when I like it. After a decade of marriage, you forget what it is like to have a new adult in your space. The adjustment period with a new roommate is a great button pushing opportunity. In that head space, I was able to examine my own junk and be reminded that life does not revolve around my wishes.
- I am not in charge of other people’s lives. As a mother of young-ish children, I was falsely lulled into the lie that my influence will determine your actions. LIE. You cannot send a 35-year-old to their room. You also cannot force a 31-year-old to do chores. Welcome to adulthood, Lacy.
- Sometimes, you need to get out of the way. With the very best of intentions, you cannot coerce, cajole or convince others of anything. There are times when you see the road ahead, and you know the outcome, and you still have others keep walking their own path. This is hard when you talk daily at work or often on the phone, but when you share a roof and see the daily grind, staying out of decisions becomes imperative.
- Space is just that. Almost immediately upon the exit of our last house guest, we shifted to a new season that called for more room in our home. I will tell the story later, but I must say, it was yet another reminder that we are called to use all that we have, even the rooms of our house, to respond to the needs around us.
I would not trade these years for anything. Some of my favorite conversations and jokes and nicknames from my kids came out of sharing space with dear friends. I often look back on these seasons and wonder who was helping whom. I needed adults and friends and trouble making sidekicks. I needed laughter and distraction and memories. To all of those who have called our house a home, I am grateful. And to all who have a spare room, I wonder if there is someone you need to learn from?