It’s one of the most common questions that I’m asked when I’m sharing about hospitality. “Do you invite different people into your home, or the same people?” And my reply is always, “Both.”
I believe there is tremendous value in opening our front door wide to invite people to our tables for one time affairs. Hosting a dinner party, celebration, or community event enriches our lives and enhances the joy that we are all created to experience.
However rhythmically opening our front door to the same group people creates an environment for growth, grace, and community that cannot be replicated in periodic encounters.
As we continually gather around the table with the same people – meals transform into community – and those people become Our People.
Many people are capable of charming someone they just met, but none of us can consistently dazzle the people who know us well. The people who spend time with us regularly in the privacy of our homes know where our charm ends and the real us begins.
So instead of merely making a good impression, Our People push us to engage with our fears of not being enough. We have to trust that Our People will continually offer acceptance, love, and grace even when our lives are messy.
This is hard work.
It’s hard work to grow and mature and evolve with the same group of people. And it’s hard work holding space for others to do the same. Both require courage and reliance on Christ.
When we push through the challenges of living authentically with the same community over and over, we experience the radical gift of grace. Grace to get back up after we fall. Grace to be valued despite our limitations. Grace to be a better version of our selves.
We can never experience grace to it’s fullest if we keep our lives too private or too controlled. To experience the grace of forgiveness and the grace of acceptance and the grace of restoration – we have to let people see us. Really see us.
That’s something that isn’t possible during a brief encounter. We share this type of vulnerability with the people who keep showing up over, and over, and over again.
“It’s better to be loved than admired,” writes Shauna Niequist, “It is better to be truly known and seen and taken care of by a small tribe than adored by strangers who think they know you in a meaningful way.”
Gathering the same people around our tables to share life invites personal significance in ways that being admired for hosting a great dinner party cannot.
It is true that joy and satisfaction are found in both. But personal transformation at our tables happens when we gather there with Our People to share meals and offer the truest version of our self.