“Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” Romans 12:14-16 (The Message)
Pastor Sunnock gave an illustration one Sunday and it stuck with me. He was talking about various ways people interact with each other. When you first meet someone, everyone starts out on the front porch. You are strangers to each other, friendly with each other, but it doesn’t go much further than that. However, once you begin to learn more about each other, you found out whether or not you have things in common. Those that do are the people you invite into your living room. While you are more comfortable with the people in the living room, conversations are still guarded somewhat, a little bit formal, and people tend to still be nervous around each other. He went on to say only a select few from the living room ever get invited into the kitchen. Those that do are the ones you trust – with your heart, your family, your secrets, your dreams. The kitchen is where the fun is. The kitchen is where you bare your souls, usually over good food, fellowship, and fun.
Some people are very comfortable on the front porch. They don’t want to let people into their lives and for various reasons they don’t care to be let into others. Other people feel they’ve made it if they are in the living room. They relate more than superficially, but don’t have a desire to dig deeper and don’t want people prying into their lives. Others are most comfortable in the kitchen. They have a desire to be vulnerable with others, share their hearts and expect the sharing to be reciprocated. Invitations into the kitchen come with some risk, though, because the more you expose yourself, the greater chance you have of being hurt. However, the more vulnerable you are, the better the opportunity to experience acceptance and love in the form God intended.
Where are you standing? Are you comfortable on the front porch? If so, have you considered maybe taking those few steps into the living room? Allowing yourself to open up to someone you can trust and see how it feels? Are you already in the living room but would like to move into the kitchen? Are you in the kitchen and you see someone in the living room waiting for an invitation? What about out on the front porch? Can you see the front porch from your position in the kitchen?
While I’m not advising forcing someone from the front porch before they are ready, I’m asking this: Do you live your life in such a way that you’re welcoming those who choose to take that next step? Are you approachable? Friendly? Vulnerable?
For myself personally, I try to camp out in the kitchen with most of my relationships, but have had a tendency to stay on the front porch too long or linger in the living room in others. I definitely have room for growth.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014