Invite Them Into The Mess {Loving and Sharing the Home You Have}

invite them into the mess | a simple haven

To celebrate the release of my (FREE!) eBook, I am so happy to continue the Loving and Sharing the Home You Have series with a post by my friend Jacey.

Jacey is passionate about living intentionally in the face of real demands, the unexpected, and human nature itself. Her eBook on this topic, Escaping Reaction; Embracing Intention, recently released (and it’s fantastic!)

She writes about relationships, faith, and personal growth at The Balanced Wife. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Mike, and golden retriever, Jack.


We live in an old, poorly maintained apartment building with a noisy, creepy elevator. Until I got used to it, stepping in felt like stepping into a horror movie.

When people visit for the first time, they get lost trying to find our building, tucked away in the back of a somewhat intimidating college campus.  No central air conditioning makes it too hot in the summer, even with the window AC units blasting.

The walls are sparser than I’d like and unless we’ve just swept, tumbleweeds of dog hair settle on the wood floors.  I’d rather no one ever see my tiny, perpetually cluttered kitchen, but that’s exactly where people gravitate and linger.

Most of our furniture is from IKEA, originally purchased for my husband’s bachelor condo but not in our budget to replace.

All these “flaws” come up before me at the thought of inviting people into my home.

I’d like to think the anxiety would diminish if we lived somewhere “nicer,” but I know better.  As Shauna Niequist so sharply points out in Bread and Wine, women feel more shame and insecurity around their bodies and their homes than anything else.

I’ve talked to friends with homes that I admire and they are equally sweaty and nervous at the thought of dinner guests. (Well, maybe not equally: I may be sweatier than most.)  Even those who love hosting, as I do, face some level of anxiety or burden.

Inviting people into our homes is scary because it makes us vulnerable. I’m afraid to show people the messes in my life, dog hair and insecurities alike.

Reading Bread and Wine last year changed the way I think about inviting people here. Shauna, who I refer to by first name because I want us to be friends, began to set me free from my erring, unhealthy thoughts about it:

“You’ll miss the richest moments in life—the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love—if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.”

Inviting people in can be scary because on some level, it feels like I’m revealing who I really am.

But it’s a fear worth overcoming because don’t we all share the human desire to know and to be known?

Deep relationships aren’t built on who we wish we were. They are built right in the midst of our brokenness and mistakes, swirled together with the messiness and unpainted baseboards and piles of dog hair.

If you wait to invite people over until you have the perfect home, you never will.

Since it’s too good not to share, I’ll end with another quote from Bread and Wine:

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

 Does the thought of inviting people over, especially new friends, make you sweat?

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About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • Life of an Expat Parent

    So good and apt for our situation. In our rented home we have chipped skirting and worn carpet that needs replacing which can put me off, but Jacey has reminded me that I am only a part of perpetuating that unrealistic, perfect home ideal if I don’t happily invite people into my imperfect space. xo

  • I love this post! Such great points Jacey!

  • Good, good, words Jacey. I’ll be keeping that phrase ‘invite them into the mess’ in my back pocket to pull out when I feel like hiding behind contrived perfectionism both in my home and in my life.

  • Yes! I enjoy entertaining, but I have felt like this in all the houses we have lived in-there was always something to “worry” about. Bread and Wine was one of those books that made me rethink so much of my anxiety and see things I was missing out on! Lovely post Jacey!