A brilliant scholar by the name of Dr. Michael J. Hyde wrote of the concept of home.
Home is a place where the door is open, we are free to be ourselves in a safe place, and a place where dialog, connection, peace and rest can happen. Dr. Hyde's concept of home is not necessarily defined as a physical space, but as a state of being. Home does not have to be confined within four physical walls, but within the space created by having relationship and community with another person. Of course Dr. Hyde's description goes much deeper than these few descriptive lines, but even this brief description can have a profound effect on how we understand the idea of creating a home.
If we apply this idea of home to ourselves and our own experiences, we can see the impact it has a bit clearer.
Whether this home is an actual structure or simply metaphorical, we have all probably had an experience with feeling at home. We have joined a group, entered a home, stepped into an organization, or encountered a single person that we feel at ease with. Conversation is easy and honest. Guards are let down. We feel like we belong and that we are welcome. There have also been times that we felt like an invited guest into someone else's space. Small groups, co-workers, or individuals allow us to be there, but the boundary between us and them is never quite breached. It often feels awkward, frustrating, and tiring as the space never truly becomes mutual space- it belongs to them and we are a guest in it.
As moms, parents, caretakers or people that have an influence in other's lives, we are continually creating or potentially demolishing "homes".
Certainly every interaction that we have with others does not require us to put out the welcome mat, prepare a feast, and offer out our space for others to stay in. But, with each interaction, we give a glimpse of what our home is and how we create it. Some of our interactions will be a calling to others to step over our threshold at our invite, have a seat on a comfy couch, enjoy a nice cup o' java, and feel like they belong. Other interactions could be like an unexpected appearance to a party where the un-invited guest is let in out of courtesy, but sits in the hard wooden chair in the corner - being nothing but a guest and an observer of the party. As the master of the house, we can be the difference between another feeling like a guest, or feeling like they are home.
We each have a choice on whether to create an inviting space or not. We have personal boundaries that affect who we open the door for and who we do not. Although it is a choice, sometimes it is a responsibility - and not always an easy one to fulfill.
So how do we create a "home space" that invites others in?
1. Listen - Take the time to not just hear the words that others are saying, but truly listen. That means to take an interest in what they are saying and realize the importance that those words have to the other. Don't spend the time you are hearing them crafting a response to them.
2. Don't Judge - Each person has a back story to their lives that has created who they are, how they think, and how they interact. Usually, we have more in common than we know. When we judge them, we are really judging ourselves.
3. Set Aside Our Own Agenda - Truly be in the interaction to have connection with the person for who they are - not for what they can do for us. Think of the connection as unconditional.
4. Extend the Invitation - Most people don't like to impose, even when it comes to simply starting a friendship or a conversation. Extend the invitation through a conversation, a genuine question or common interest. If they fail to RSVP, send the invite again and leave it open ended. If and when they are ready, they will join you.
When was the last time you were made to feel at home?
Have you ever been called to create that for someone else?