It keeps happening. The people I regularly invite into my home keep asking me if they can help clean up after a big meal. Most typically they want to help with the dishes. As the consummate hostess it is within me to decline their help. I love to open my home, serve people, and cook for them. I've learned to embrace the realities of that: an overflowing sink, messy counter tops, and a dining table littered with reminders of time well spent.
I don't expect much when I welcome guests into my home. And invitation to dinner at my home is really an invitation to share stories. That's the best part of the meal. I take the full responsibility of cleaning up upon myself. It's a worthy trade-off to gather around the table with people and make memories. Lately however I've noticed a pattern in my guests. They don't want the night to end. But specifically there's more of their story they want to share, often privately. So the request to help wash my dishes is a façade. What they're really asking for is an invitation to linger. And so I've started saying, "yes, I'd love your help," more often. I get clean dishes but most importantly they get the listening ear they crave.
It's a unique story of how I came into relationship with my best friend. But what you need to know is how we deepened that relationship. She would come over once or twice a week for a couples' dinner or girls night, and she would always stay late to help me wash dishes. At the time I lived in a 1926 bungalow without a dishwasher and boy, did I welcome her help. She was prepping for her wedding at the time. Over that sink of soap, suds, and grease, she shared fears and asked questions. I shared how marriage is both incredibly rewarding and also one of
the hardest things you'll ever do in your life. Anyone who presents just one side of that coin is lying.
I’ve been reflecting on those nights spent around that farm-style sink lately. It is within my nature to not ask for help. It is second hand for me to try and do everything myself. I’ve been trying to ignore that impulse lately. Instead I’m trying to slow down and answer after a moment of thought and considering what a person may really be asking when they ask to stay and help. More often than not the real questions sounds something more like these:
“Can I tell you a hard part of my story?”
“Do you have advice on this difficult situation I’m going through?”
Am I cared about? Valuable? Beautiful? Loved?”
So in my house as I try to make space for stories, community, and real life shared, my kitchen sink is looking less and less like a place to redeem messy plates. It’s starting to look more and more like a place to redeem hearts. It has become an altar of sorts; the kind flanked by bits of food and the smell of Dawn.
Joy is a missionary to Downtown Orlando with her husband, Jason, and drool covered Bassett Hound, Sam. She has a degree in Church Leadership and formerly helped manage the Church Planting office of Converge Worldwide. She teaches women how to intersect their faith and life through intentional missional living at joybrudolph.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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