Finding Your Tribe
I’m not a huge fan of the empty nest. Most of the time, I much prefer a full house.
Empty, dark & quiet is NOT my thing. I want my home to be light, open, alive. I love hearing laughter & conversation drifting from the other room. I like people gathering around my kitchen island. I like the kind of home where friends walk in without knocking. A doorbell…what’s that? Those are WAY too formal.
And music, ALWAYS music.
When we first moved to this house, it was full more often than not. I don’t quite know how it happened but almost from the day we moved in, this little house took on a life of its own. Our chunky farm table didn’t fit in the dining room so we set it on the side porch. And we USED it. Several nights a week you would find us eating dinner with friends, squeezing as many as we could around the farm table on the porch.
Most often the people sharing our table were between the ages of 18 and 25. It started off being friends of Jarod’s and Alyssa’s, and then friends of friends, but after Alyssa left for a 2-year internship in East Texas and Jarod moved to Belize, they all kept coming. The empty nest I had dreaded never happened! Looking back, it was a beautiful season. A sacred one. I didn’t really think of this house as “mine”; I thought of it as God’s. I would come home from work and find people in my kitchen or living room or on the porch, having deep conversations or playing guitars. Worship was spontaneous and real. Yes, my grocery bill was astronomical and yes, there were times I was emotionally wrung out but overall… I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
But then seasons change. They all left for college or got married. Other friends moved away or got busy with other pursuits. And one day I found myself in a quiet, empty house, longing for voices and laughter. Longing to be a part of something bigger than myself.
A few weeks ago, one of Alyssa’s friends, now living in Virginia, reached out to let us know she was coming to Texas for a few days. Of course she would stay with us, but would it be okay if she brought five of her college friends with her? I almost said no. I almost told her we didn’t have room for 6 extra people to stay. I was embarrassed that they would all be sharing a tiny bathroom, that the four guys would have to stay out in the “studio” behind the garage with a window A/C unit and no bathroom.
I almost said no. But I didn’t. I said “Come on! Bring your friends!” And you know what? As it turns out, I was the one who was blessed. They filled this house with music and life and energy and they reminded me of how much I love it when my house is full. How much I long for this life steeped in community.
And that’s really what the space we share is all about. It’s our journey as we attempt to do life together in a more meaningful way. Not just meeting at church or at some other planned function once every week or so, but being integrated into the daily, regular rhythms of each others’ lives.
So how are we doing with this? Maybe you’re wondering how this is going. There are challenges, to be sure. Summer, the time of year we imagine will be filled with outdoor cookouts and neighborhood parties and late night glasses of wine at the fire pit…well, mostly it’s just hot. The mosquitoes are fierce. Life gets busy and everyone is tired and so many nights it’s just easier to stay inside our cool, comfortable living rooms and watch Netflix. But then something happens to pull us outside our walls, a birthday to be celebrated or the chicken coop needs a massive clean out… or Amber gets a call from the foster agency saying “We have a child for you”. And it’s at these times that I am so eternally grateful for the people I share my life with.
I realize through all of this that God also loves a full house. Isn’t this the heart of the gospel of Jesus? You belong. You matter. You’re invited. Come to my table. I WANT you here with me.
My challenge for you is this. Find your tribe. If you don’t have one, create one! Start with one or two people. Some of the best friendships started with a dinner invitation or a coffee date. And, I’m speaking to myself here too because I need some accountability…let’s refuse to spend the summer retreating into our air-conditioned caves. Let’s open our doors and invite someone in.