I was exhausted, pregnant, and at my limit when I moved three kids from our rental on one side of the island to the base on the other side of the island. During that time I realized I needed the help of those around me more than ever before. As much as I tried to avoid it, I ended up not only asking for help, but taking every drop of help I could get from those who’d offered time and time again.
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you’ll know that the culture of locals on-island will put even Southern hospitality to shame. This “shirt off your back” attitude was one that I came to know and love. From cleaning my house, to keeping me company, and even watching my kids while I had time to myself, our church community showered me with the gifts of time and love. They gave me a new perspective of just how fulfilling it was to spend time with those I love and give whatever I could to those in need. In entering my home and welcoming me into theirs, they showed me what a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving could take place when we open our doors.
I cannot imagine how much different my life would look today without having their sacrifice of love as an example. They gave of themselves relentlessly and without thought or care of any consequence. To this day, those women who dragged me (sometimes kicking and screaming) into their lives and held me up when I was sinking are like sisters to me. It’s such a precious thing that I have to ask: Why did I ever resist? Why do we resist community, especially when it’s in our homes?
I’d always been pretty independent when it came to receiving help and doing things on my own. But during that season, I needed people to surround me with the type of love and genuine care I’d so often felt was for others but not for me.
Why not for me? I’ve always been the helper. I grew up watching women in my life whom I looked up to always helping others. I never witnessed any of them in a vulnerable situation. While they taught me invaluable life skills and lent a hand in training me in the ways of generous living, they also inadvertently taught me that I could do all things on my own. I never felt the need to ask for help for anything as a child, and this festered as I became an adult. Perhaps I perceived my needing help as a weakness. When others needed help, it seemed normal. When I needed help, it felt bad. God took that from me in Hawaii.
This time, making this home, it was my turn. It was my turn to open up and lean in to all that God wanted to do in my life through these people, through this mess. As much as I tried to fight it, there was just no way to shut down the miracle God wanted to perform for me and my kids. He was ready to show me what it really meant to live life with others in true community. He was restoring us with His love and showing us what a restored, open, vulnerable home looked like.
Up until this point, I always thought I was okay pushing through on my own—better than okay, even. I think sometimes we’re so bent on doing things the way we have always done them, we don’t realize what we’re missing.
I had been trying to one-woman-show my way through the process of establishing each home when I didn’t need to. He was offering me a new life in community. A new life of not only giving but receiving. I could rest in knowing that He was in control and that, no matter where we physically landed, what our house looked like, or how perfectly decorated and styled it was on the inside, I could trust Him to do the work of turning every house we occupied into a home.
Some things are just better with friends and neighbors. Beyond the usual, such as moving furniture and painting walls, here are a few ideas to take you out of the one-woman-show mind-set and bring you deeper into community while making your home.
- FLEA MARKET FRIENDSHIP | Two pairs of eyes are better than one, especially when you’re digging through piles at a flea market, garage sale, or secondhand shop. And even more especially if your friend has bargaining skills!
- THE BARTER | If you and a friend (or a group) have any design or functional woes in your home, don’t hold back. Share with each other, and take it to the next level by signing on to help do something about it. You can trade time and effort, with your many hands making lighter work. Maybe you can trade some flat-pack closet help for assistance with putting up a new backsplash. Feed off one another’s inspiration and fresh perspective.
- FRIENDLY FORAGERS | In your backyard, the woods, or a friend’s place, ask for company in bringing the outdoors in. It could be combing the beach for some good stones, searching the woods for antlers, or finding green foliage in overgrown places.
Excerpted with permission from Restoration House: Creating a Home That Gives Life and Connection to All Who Enter