I tell people, as my child leaps into their arms, that she is the mega-extrovert. She is the embodiment of sanguine. She wins a room over, whether they want to be won or not. (She’ll make an excellent politician or 8th grade math teacher someday.) She is the definition of energy gained from socialization, and I? I’m the one who feels my energy depleting minute-by-minute, dish by dish, fresh baked brownie by plate of spaghetti. I live in the near boiling tension of loving people but a confident introvert. This confuses some, causing a brow to raise when I admit that I’m an introvert.

But I will happily open my doors to whomever is knocking. A meal? It’s yours. A cup of tea? Yes, always. Coffee, fresh brewed? Just say the word. I want my home to be a haven, and not just for empty stomachs or cold hands, but empty hearts and tired feet.

“But you have people over all the time!”

“Oh I know!” I exclaim. “I love people!”

But I’m not the social butterfly. Unless something is pounding in my heart, I will gladly take the seat of listening. I will keep asking questions to see what else is behind your story, your quick summation of your wild life lived.

But even I confess, those five minutes before everyone arrives, after I’ve lit all the candles and checked the temperature of the meat one last time, I have to take a deep breath. “This is going to be hard,” I tell myself. I might reach for a glass of wine or stuff my face with an early bite of mac and cheese just to numb that feeling, because anxiety is my shadow.

But the door opens and I hear the sound of voices. Winter coats are tossed on the hooks and snow scatters across the hardwood, a telling reminder that this house is a place where we shake off the hard stuff and try to let deep things melt.

(image shared from the instagram feed of @andrealevendusky)

(image shared from the instagram feed of @andrealevendusky)

I have purposely been upstairs before when guests arrive. I like the sounds of their voices but the pressure of an enthusiastic greeting is not always my cup of tea.

The slowing down. Listening. Knowing more than ending this night feeling full, maybe it should end with me feeling empty. Empty of words and dish soap. No more wine and a full sink, conversations that take their time at the table, in the kitchen or at the doorway.

This is when I have found the true gift of opening my home. Those few stolen moments, when a friend sits across the table from me, and I’m quieted long enough to hear them confess words, broken with tears, over a plate of meatballs or a hot drink.

bowl of meatballs

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, the one handed down to me from my grandmother. Rounded, cracked, covered with a tablecloth and the remnants of dinner from hours ago. The sound of conversations and raucous laughter fills my living room just over my shoulder, but I’m here, staring at the face of a friend who has taken a few silent moments to speak with a low voice and with tears about how he’s feeling about life. I know I won’t likely be joining the crowd for games, nor will I make any effort to become the center of attention. But I’ve filled here — breaking another piece of bread and dipping it into the meat sauce while confessions of loneliness and finding our place are poured out on the table like wine.

Maybe this is the gift of hospitality. There is no show. There is no parade of my home. There are bread crumbs for both finding the food and finding our way back home.

I don’t remember where I read it, but there is a common courtesy when offering tea to a guest. First you offer tea, and if the guest declines, you let them decline. You offer again and if they decline, you kindly nod. But you always offer a third time. This time it’s different. You suggest that you will be making some for yourself, and “Would you like a cup?” If your guest really wants tea, here is where you’ll know it. Here is where most of the time they will say, “Well, if you’re making it for yourself…”

This was a picture of how I choose to live in a state of hospitality. The difference between simply offering and then inviting in. The fine line between “What do you want?” and “What can we share together?”

So over my next pot of sauce, I’m knowing I will invite someone to dip their bread with me and I will stand quietly, emptying my mind of noise and stress to hear. To listen. To see the wine spilling and to provide a haven for any heart.

QH_GT

Andrea Burke / Posts / Blog
designer + writer. mother to an old soul. contributor at @585mag. worship leader @graceroadchurch. person.
  • Flower Patch Farmgirl

    Best thing I’ve read all week. You describe me to a T. I love what you share about inviting. This is on my mind so often, because all of this is a struggle to me, too. Your title reeled me in… I wanted to see the difference in the two. Thanks so much for showing me.

    February 6th, 2015 12:52
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    • Andrea
      http://theorganicbirdblog.com

      Love this! You’re not alone in this boat. Thank you for not just reading, but staying long enough to leave a little note as well. I’m so glad this encouraged you today!

      February 6th, 2015 21:26
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  • Christine- Fruit in Season
    http://fruitinseason.blogspot.com

    Such a beautiful picture of the intersection between loving and introversion. Beautiful.

    February 6th, 2015 14:59
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    • Andrea
      http://theorganicbirdblog.com

      Oh, I’m so glad that came through clearly. Thank you Christine!

      February 6th, 2015 21:25
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  • Beth
    http://withlove-simplybeth.blogspot.com/

    I can’t help but to say it again and again, so blessed by what all of you share here. Hands down one of my favorite places to pull up a chair. Blessings.

    February 6th, 2015 15:02
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    • Andrea
      http://theorganicbirdblog.com

      Thank you Beth!

      February 6th, 2015 21:25
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  • Linda@Creekside
    http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/

    For sure we introverts love to open our homes, our hearts. Especially for a lovely little lunch. Or a not too grand supper. We don’t want to get overwhelmed by commotion or perfection.

    But we do crave the deep conversation, the cozy connection. And the chance to offer encouragement. And grace.

    February 6th, 2015 15:57
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    • Andrea
      http://theorganicbirdblog.com

      Yes! The commotion overwhelms me quickly. I love those quiet moments that sneak in unexpectedly. Thank you for reading!

      February 6th, 2015 21:25
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  • Gabrielle

    Ah, yes. I’m very cerebral, so it’s often hard for me to express love verbally. And, yet, I’ve found that God’s given me intuition to listen and care deeply for others in my own way.

    This is somewhat unrelated, but I’m currently reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” It offers a lot of neat insights and encouragement.

    February 6th, 2015 17:57
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    • Andrea
      http://theorganicbirdblog.com

      Ohhh that sounds good Gabrielle! May have to add that to my list!

      February 6th, 2015 21:24
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  • Traci Rhoades
    http://www.tracesoffaith.com/

    Ah, the complexities of an introvert. I want you around, I do. For like an hour. But it will take an hour before and after for me to recover. A good post. And yes, we do it anyway. This line: The fine line between “What do you want?” and “What can we share together?” makes a difference for me. People engage so much more when it’s about us too.

    February 9th, 2015 15:34
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