My house feels like a home. Countless number of people have commented on how at ease they’ve gotten when they’ve come over. It is a house of peace and rest. (One time a woman told me that upon entering our gate it felt like entering the twilight zone because such a different feeling came over her!) Regularly touring bands will swing by our house for a place to crash for the night; they can do laundry, they can shower. With one hand they can work on the puzzle on the kitchen table and with the other hand they can pet the basset hound at their feet. I’ve never asked anyone to take off their shoes before entering. In fact, before we got the incredible iRobot Roomba, I was embarrassed for a guest to take off his shoes as he’d probably end up with stray pet hair under his feet. Try as we might, Brian and I – to this day – have still not worked out a manageable house cleaning system where we can maintain each room on a regular rotating basis. But one thing we have in common: we both have hearts that want to use our home for ministry. We long for our abode to be a place of physical and spiritual relief and rejuvenation.
Several years ago I invited a group of women over. I have absolutely no idea what the occasion was, but I remember that I was serving hot beverages. I know this because I had to assess my mug situation. We have a slew of mugs. Most of our mugs have their own unique look and no mate. I used to think this was charming until I was invited over to somebody else’s house the other day and all their mugs matched. So I wondered, “Am I a rare exception? Do people think Brian and I live like unsophisticated cave people with all of our mismatched mugs?” Well, on this night I had just enough mugs for just enough people. The only problem was that one of my mugs had a chip in it right where you’d be likely to place your mouth and take a sip. I was worried that 1) a woman might cut their lip and 2) a guest might think less of me for serving her a beverage in a chipped mug.
Now I hadn’t lived in Northern Virginia all my life. I was relatively new to the scene. And I don’t mean to whine, but – GOODNESS! – it is hard to make friends out here. This area is so populated that it’s a cinch to make acquaintances. But friends? Good luck.Then entered Sherri. I had been doing Sherri’s hair for a while and through my recommendation she checked out our church and decided that it was the right fit for her. Of all the women coming over, for some instinctive reason I knew that I was the least worried about Sherri managing the chipped mug. So with a hushed voice I approached her and explained my awkward situation. She was thrilled and honored to spare my embarrassment and claimed the chipped mug for the night. It was on that night that I could count one more friend in my life.
Sherri’s story of our friendship is not dissimilar. I’m sure this has never happened to you, but certainly you’ve seen someone attempt to contain their laughter when in the same moment they’ve taken a swig of, say, water. They’re out of luck and the water sprays everywhere, right? Well, at a different get-together on a different night, several of us were sitting outside enjoying a delicious spread. Sherri had just taken a full bite of strawberries when something unexpectedly hilarious happened. And in the brief millisecond when she knew she had to turn to the right or turn to the left, she chose to turn to the left – because that’s where I was sitting – and sprayed them all over me. And while she wasn’t as well acquainted with the guest on her right, she knew I’d understand. And I did. Because she was my chipped-mug friend.