As you start this week, remember to not wait for life to be perfect before you take a risk in the name of friendship. Don’t wait for your house to be perfectly clean before inviting that potential new friend over for tea, or to have all the time in the world in your calendar before seeing if your neighbor wants to go out for happy hour.
If you want friendship, you need to make room for it by being vulnerable with your imperfections. After all, friends are friends, in many cases, because of shared weaknesses, passions, and priorities. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” If you wait until everything’s roses, there’ll be no “you too?” to share.
One of the hardest things about the culture where we lived in Turkey was its definition of cleanliness. See, no matter how clean I thought our home was (not that it was ever spotless, with two preschoolers underfoot), it paled in comparison to my average neighbor.
See, my local friends—when they cleaned, they cleaned. There was hardly a time I saw a dust bunny in their homes—and to boot, it was an honor if you dropped by unannounced. Swinging by to say hello usually turned into a two-hour tea, complete with pastries and undivided attention.
And if you’re doing the math, then yep, giving me honor was to swing by my place, unannounced. Where I lived with little people. In a culture that values cleanliness.
Needless to say, it made me nervous.
But you know what I learned? Rarely was there a time that I wasn’t loved because our house wasn’t clean enough. Even if my home was a disaster compared to their pristine dwellings, local friends never said a word. They just smiled. And loved. And usually laughed at my language blunders.
Friendship and hospitality are about relationships. It’s not about impressing one another. It’s not about one-upping each other, sizing each other, or wringing your hands with worry about what the other person thinks.
It’s about being yourself and seeing what happens. Remember to be yourself this week—and to be brave and invite someone in to your life, imperfect as it is.
Part of this post was first published in February 2012–I leave for Australia tomorrow morning, so I’ll be busy today packing, reading to my kids, and going on a date night. If you’re near Gold Coast next weekend, I’d love to see you!