Part of our renovation included adding an entryway to our home. You can’t imagine how I felt when this antique piece we’ve had for years fit just so with only a whisper to spare. Relieved, excited, grateful…I just had to hug somebody, so I threw my arms around Think Tank (much to our contractor’s relief!).

Why a foyer? For lots of reasons.

  • With our family Bible sitting on the desk below the framed hydrangeas, visitors know exactly where we Pearsons stand: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
  • To give our house a chance to make a nice “first impression”
  • We have an official spot to meet and greet, right in front of my maple-colored door.
  • Folks get somewhere to doff their coat and hat and get situated before passing through or a place to chat with Hubby and me while they wait for their peeps to finish playing with ours.
  • We can offer the welcome mat but not necessarily the welcome home. People can come inside, but not everybody needs to come all the way inside.

Mmmm…that last part. While I’m not “patching together a family the way [Annabelle] was piecing together a house” in Dysfunction Junction, this new foyer actually says a lot about little old me. The part of me that needs constant updating.

Folks close to me say I struggle with letting them all the way in, and I’m not talking about the brick structure that is my house, but the flesh-and-blood home called my heart. They’ve called me out on how nimbly I dodge questions that take more than a smile or a witticism to respond to, that try to venture further than my protective, self-deprecating barrier. That wariness also goes for change dressed up like “opportunity,” for what makes me feel uncomfortable and nervous and unable. I struggle to open the door to possible missteps or what might take me out my comfort zone. As I sip my coffee dressed in my sweats, peering through the glass in my foyer—figurative and literal—I wonder, Can I trust you? Will I get hurt or fail?

Do you really need to come all the way inside?

And when I do open up, it’s only wide enough for folks or opportunities to squeeeeeze through by the hair of their chinny chin chin. That is, if they make it past the storm door. I tend to take the “Above all else, guard your heart” very seriously. (Proverbs 4:23). At the first sign of smoke on the emotional horizon, I consider battening down the hatches and moving on without waiting to see if it’s friendly or enemy fire. When Mama taught me the benefits of a well-built storm door, I took those lessons and applied them to my heart. Much like my characters, Annabelle and Charlotte, I’ve learned to keep myself to myself.

Am I alone in this? Do you welcome the world with open arms, or do you give it a wary side eye? Do you carefully curate what you share, like the decorations in your home? Most importantly—have you kept the Lord on the outside and gazed at Him through the glass, “safe” on the inside? When you did open the door, did you tell Him, “Wait here. Make yourself comfortable in this small space. There’s stuff everywhere, and we’re unprepared to receive guests.”?

Well, I found that it wasn’t enough that I answered the Lord’s knock and unlocked the door. He wasn’t content with hanging out on my welcome mat, with merely peeking over my shoulder at what was beating deeply inside, beyond the entryway. A first impression is akin to the “appearance” or “physical stature” that the Lord dismissed when it came to Israel’s first king. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) To abide—my word for the past couple of years—entailed flinging wide both doors and allowing Him full access to every room, where He can see all the dishes stacked in the sink, every unmade bed, all the unfinished pages.

Why? Because visiting isn’t enough, not for the God in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). At this point in my faithwalk, He has moved in all the way. There’s no cooling His heels in the foyer, however welcoming and cozy it might be. At one time, He was standing at the door, knocking, but He is Emmanuel, my word not just for 2024, but the Living Word, for always.

When the Lord makes Himself at home, you experience growing pains, much as your house does when you add/remove/remodel a space. (Imagine that scene from the Grinch!) Our own renovation took way longer than we imagined—and honestly, I’m not sure I can use the past tense—and construction dust got e v e r y w h e r e. But maturing in the faith takes even longer; it’s lifelong. And Jesus leaves no person, relationship, habit, plan, dream, or heart untouched, unchanged, unmoved, or unbroken…then transplanted, rebuilt, repaired, rearranged, and redeemed. That’s what He can do for Charlotte, Annabelle, and Frankie should they open the door to Him and each other in Dysfunction Junction. That’s what He does for me, every minute and every hour. My Lord doesn’t always make sure I’m dressed and ready with my lipstick on, so when He provides unexpected opportunities to forgive or heal or love, they catch me unawares. I don’t always extend a warm welcome; I try to show them my family Bible and hope that’s enough. God makes me open it, live it, and then step aside to let these opportunities all the way inside. My home—my heart, my life—is all His and He knows every room like the back of His nail-scarred hand, after all.

Yet and still…I love my foyer and my storm door. More often than not, you’ll find my exterior door thrown wide open to let the sun stream through the glass, even when its rays play tug of war with the clouds on overcast days. Mind you, my storm door stays locked because I am my mama’s daughter, and some habits don’t break; they only bend and stretch. But as soon as Oscar gives the paw’s up, come on in.

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