Warmer connections come when we’re willing to take a chance.

If you’ve been following my 31 Days of Warm Connections series, I’m sharing today about friendships. I have friendships that go back almost 50 years—some 40, 30, 20, 10, as well as more recent friends. I’ve always told my daughter that friends are like a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The more you have, the more stunning the bouquet.

Last month, two of my newer friends came to my house on a Friday morning. All week long, I thought about my commitments, my list of chores, the last part of the garden that needed harvesting, canning, blogging … you name it. The list in my mind became overwhelming, and I tried to talk myself out of the invitation I had already made.

I wrote about our fast-paced world, how we naturally get into routines and rhythms with our families and schedules, and how busyness sets in. Even though we naturally long to spend time with family and friends, and we all need encouragement, we often lose sight of what’s important.

Busyness. A demanding schedule is the biggest hindrance to getting together with those we love.

Disinterest. Sometimes, sadly, we’re just not interested in others.

Disappointment. We stop connecting when we’re hurt or others don’t reciprocate.

Neglect. We forget that relationships are eternal, the most important thing in our lives.

And then there’s our homes.

My house. Do I really want to clean and get ready for these two new lady friends that have “moved” into my life? Won’t they be looking at my house?

Oh, the risk that’s involved in opening our homes. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with these blood-sucking, joy-stealing thoughts:

Is it clean enough?

Will they see the piles in the corner?

Just look at the kitchen cabinets that are streaked with tomato juice from canning.

Will they notice the dust bunnies on the floor?

Do I really have to serve food?

Will they judge me if I buy store-bought food?

Look at my dirty windows.

I haven’t dusted in two weeks.

My bathroom is so outdated.

Can I settle my mind and learn more about my friends?

What will we talk about?

Will they like me?

What will they think of me? Me, me, me.

I think about my insecurities, and I clearly see why inviting others into our homes is so risky.

We’re so worried about ourselves, and what others think, that it absolutely ruins us.

Most of the time, people aren’t even thinking about us, they’re thinking of themselves and their own insecurities. Moments of joy, encouragement, inspiration, authenticity, even tears and bearing of our souls to one another are taken away when we say “No.”

So this time I pushed past my fears and I said yes.

Fiona and Jenny came over after taking their kids to school on a Friday morning. I have teenagers; they each school-aged children and Fiona a baby. We talked about life, friendships, the loneliness of moving into a new town, the church community, how to get involved, people who are hospitable, people who are not (in general, no names). It’s good to have close-knit friends to share life. We’re made for needing each other, for connection and for helping one another, for accountability, and for love.

When Fiona asked what she could bring, I thought, why not? I’ll let her bring the morning goodies. Why do I have to do it all? I’ll provide the coffee or ice water. I’ll find a flower in my yard for a vase. I’ll tidy up the area where the three of us can sit and talk for an hour. I’ll listen and engage and ask questions about their lives because I care.

I’ll look into their eyes and feel their pain, and we’ll rejoice in our blessings.

I’m never disappointed when we invite people into our home. The best gifts in life are our relationships, the blessings of eating and drinking together, listening, and feeling.

When’s the last time you said “Yes” and invited others into your home, even for just a short visit? How did you feel when your guests left?