Your House Size Doesn't Matter.
Fifteen years ago I sat alone on a charter bus outside the entrance of the slums is Soweto, South Africa. I couldn't do it. I couldn't walk off of this huge bus, follow my American classmates through the streets and gawk at the poor. It didn't sit right with me. A professor encouraged me to get off of the bus. Even in the discomfort and maybe shame of who I was in that moment, he encouraged me to step off of the bus to see more of the world. It was important. I followed my professor and our South African guide into the slums. We were soon greeted by a woman. She invited us into her home. Her home was probably not much bigger than the king size bed I sleep on every night. We had to duck to enter. We stood shoulder to shoulder not knowing what to say. She was proud. Proud of her home. Proud to have Americans walking on her 20 square feet of ground. She, like many women I know, began sweeping. Making way for her guests. The tour of her home took no longer than a wave of her arm and moving my eyes from left to right. She was showing us all she had. All she had could be seen from standing in one spot. There were no apologies from her. She did not hold back from inviting us in because she was ashamed of her small space. She was honored to have people step foot into her home.
I hear over and over again from people When I have a bigger house we'll host people. When I have more land we'll have kids play outside. When I have a bigger kitchen I'll have people over for dinner. Maybe your thinking, Linnea, you have a great house for entertaining. Don't tell me about having a small house. It hasn't always been the case. We are able to open the home we have now because we know how to host in the small. When I lived in a tiny old fisherman's house, where the laundry machines were in the kitchen, I hosted worship nights for college students. We crammed into that tiny old house and sang our hearts out week after week. When Sam and I lived in our tiny apartment, where all of the appliances touched each other if they were open at the same time, we hosted many birthday parties and get togethers. We stood shoulder to shoulder laughing and having a great time.
Whenever I hear that people want to invite people in but think there home is too small I always tell them that people gather in the same 50 square feet of the house anyway. Rarely are people spread out into all of the rooms. A few years ago we went to an event at an enormous house here in the harbor. It was probably well over 5000 square feet. Do you know where all thirty of us gathered? Around the kitchen island and then eventually on the patio. 4700 square feet of unused space that night.
I also tell that people that others don't care how small or big your house is. Nope. They don't. I promise. The only thing people care about is if they are invited in and how they are treated when they cross your front door. If you're a jerk in your mansion your guests will want to bolt. If you are kind to the people in your tiny house they'll want to stay. If you keep apologizing for how small your house is, your guests will feel as if they are imposing. If you treat your guest as if they are the most important person in your enormous house on the water, they will feel welcomed.
I am saddened to see that our pride keeps us from connection. Pride can go many ways. We're too ashamed that our house isn't big enough. We care too much about our nice things and don't want them to get ruined by guests. Our guests may not be wealthy or good enough to enter into our nice homes. We're embarrassed by of our lack of cooking skills. We're ashamed that our party planning skills aren't up to par with Pinterest. I've used all of those excuses at one time or another. I've been there. But I have learned over time that welcoming people in to right where I am is the one of the most wonderful things. It has breeded connection and trust. It has allowed others to open their doors to us as well. It has deepened relationships and welcomed new ones. If a woman in the slums of South Africa can joyfully welcome me in, I can do the same for others.
When we get over ourselves and care more about the size of hearts than the size our homes beautiful things will happen. I promise.
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating of your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
Here are a few tips for inviting others in when you feel not good enough.
1. House too small? Get creative. In some cities they take the party to the roof because their apartments are just too small. String lights outside and gather in the backyard or even the front yard.
2. Can't cook? Claim a night to invite people in and call it a pizza night. Tell friends you do pizza every Friday and you want them there. No cooking required.
3. Not creative? Host a bar theme. Popcorn bar, waffle bar, mimosa bar, s'more bar. All you need in a table and a lot of ingredients.
4. Have nice things? Put the crystal vase away before hand. Have a "shoes off please" sign next to the door if dirty shoes brings you anxiety.
What about you? I'd love to know. Feel free to comment below and tell others how you get creative when inviting people in?