Have you ever had a friend that you were so close with you were just as at home in their house as your own? I've been pretty fortunate in life to have had two such friends, both named Amy.
Amy D. was my middle school best friend. We met in the 6th grade and we were inseparable until a tragic falling out in the ninth grade. Until then, we did everything together. We spent every weekend with each other. We invited the other on family vacations and we were like an extra daughter to the other's family.
The falling out that broke up Amy D. and I actually brought me closer to Amy R., who had been in my group of close friends all through middle school. We spent the next next four years together, the best of friends. It was just a given that we would be at the other's house. I started attending church with Amy R. and that brought us even closer.
I was so close to my friends that I was comfortable in their houses even when their families were home but they weren't. If I wanted something to eat, I could just help myself to the fridge. I knew where the TV and movies were if I got bored. I could just hang out and visit with the parents and siblings.
I did, however, learn the hard way that no matter how close you are, you should always knock before you enter. One morning, I arrived at Amy R.'s house around 7am. I was afraid of waking anyone so I decided to quietly let myself in (not something I was in the habit of doing). I walked in on her dad exercising on the mini trampoline...in his underwear. I'm still not sure who was more embarrassed.
But what happens to us as we get older?
I have a few (very few) close friends. One of them came over the other day and as I was showing her my new bookshelves she remarked, "I keep forgetting how big your house is." It struck me as odd that she didn't know my house very well. When I was at her house some time ago, I happened to be in her bedroom and I realized that it was probably only the second time I'd been in her room. I'm not saying that bedrooms should be open to the public, I'm just saying that I'm not familiar with her house.
Do you have friends that feel so welcome in your home that they can just help themselves to anything? My parents have this kind of house, they always have. The door's always open and everyone's welcome. Sometimes I wonder if my house doesn't look more like a fortress. It's not that I don't welcome my friends when they're here, it's just that I don't invite them to begin with. I want my kids to have friends like I did--ones who feel like this is their second home--but they haven't been learning from my example.
I can rightly put some of the fault on the fact that as an adult I have many more things pressing on my time. I don't have the luxury of hanging out and watching "The Brady Bunch" reruns for hours at a time. But that's just an excuse. How can my friends feel welcome in my home when I won't even let down the drawbridge for them to come in?
This my sanctuary, my place to unwind, but why not unwind with good friends? Why not take shelter with the company of those close to me?
I can't help but feel like God (if He blogged) would be writing this same thing. "My children make themselves at home in the world, why aren't they as intimately familiar with my home?" I know every inch of my house. I know where the floor squeaks and the windows draft and the water drips. I know the coziest spot on the couch and where to sit to soak up the best sunbeams. I know where everything is kept and the things that are never put back where they are kept. But am I as familiar with God's house? Can I honestly say that it's just as comfortable to me as being in my own house? Am I certain of walking in unannounced, knowing that I'll be embraced with open arms and told to kick off my shoes at make myself at home because, after all, I'm family?
There is no moat around God's house, no drawbridge to be let down. I doubt He even has a front door that we have to knock on. It's just always open and He's standing there in the doorway, beckoning us to come on in and "make yourselves at home."