One snowy December evening, three of the young adults from our congregation stopped over to visit . . . on a whim. Here is the beauty of a whim visit: it doesn’t leave time for me to consider whether I should clean the house, run to the grocery store, or even change the tablecloth. Whim Visits say, “I love you enough to have zero expectations. You don’t even have to let me in the house if you prefer.”
I brewed a very strong pot of coffee, set out the Italian sweet cream, and canceled my prior very important plans of putting the kids to bed early and binge-watching 1990s reruns. At first, we sat around talking life and Christmas shopping to-do lists. I have a very clear memory of one of our visitors sitting on the floor with a toddler-sized Goehmann playing with the plump figures from the plastic nativity, patiently listening to the electronic, low-battery version of “Away in the Manger” fourteen times or more.
At the time, my husband had a thing for a Christmas DVD that provided a fake-fireplace on the screen of your TV. I rolled my eyes when he put it in and served more coffee. Next, my husband loaded his most recent Christmas-album find to the sound dock for our listening pleasure. Where I would have chosen, you know, instrumental carols for a quiet Whim Visit, my husband chose a wildly alternative band with dance mix remakes of modern Christmas tunes. When the sound burst out of the speaker, I about spit out my coffee. However, by the third track someone had started dancing with a child, another person joined in, and another, and then another. We danced to that album and two more random ones from our iTunes playlist until we fell into our couches with a sheen of sweat, rolling around laughing, discussing which song was our new favorite and which dance move was the worst. We took the party to the dining room table and ended up talking about God’s plans for our lives and the beauty of a God who calls Himself Immanuel, God with us.
I don’t know about you, but I want more memories like this one in my life and fewer memories of me watching reruns.
Why don’t we have more community in our life? Why don’t we engage in silliness and discussion around a pot of coffee, for an hour (or four) each weekend? Our schedules are packed, so I don’t want to pack more in them. I think adding something else to the schedule sounds intimidating and often makes us want to crawl under our covers and hide from our phones.
Which is why this Christmas, I propose one Whim Visit. Pop over, stop by, knock on a door, bring a fruitcake that no one wants to eat (except for me . . . I really like fruitcake). Schedules trump us, relationships need intentionality, but they also need spontaneity. While my impromptu Christmas dance party isn’t really comparable, it begs to be noted that in the early church we see a lot of gathering and a fair amount of spontaneity. Something miraculous happens when people open themselves up to sharing time together, particularly spontaneously—deeper things often emerge.
What started as awkward turned into a dance party at my house, which moved into conversations about life, and God, and the Bible, and Hope. Christmas is an especially easy time for this to happen because baby Jesus is literally sitting around everywhere waiting to be noticed and discussed. Signs of a Savior are never far from our fingertips during the days leading up to Christmas. On a Whim Visit, because we’ve opened ourselves up to spontaneity and the movement of the Holy Spirit in relationships off the bat, I think it’s also possible we get to depth in the relationship and the discussion faster as well.
In Acts 18, the apostle Paul is reviled in the synagogue so he goes somewhere else. He goes to some guy’s house and amazing things happen:
“And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:7-8)
This guy’s house was simply next door. There are many details ,and I’m pretty sure a relationship here, we know nothing about, but I think this qualifies on the spectrum of Whim Visits. Paul was visiting one place and instead of that place he went to someone’s house, someone with an open heart and consequently an open door, and in the end whole households were baptized. God moves in our invitations to relationship. He acts when we can’t see Him act, and sometimes, unexpectedly, we get to see Him work clear as day. Introvert or extrovert, I believe God just might do something with a simple visit. Here’s some help to make your Whim Visit a little less weird in a culture that needs us to help them find genuine community again.
3 ways to make a Whim Visit less awkward
Text first, call first, or use purposeful words when someone answers the door—“I just wanted to spend time with you, but I don’t need to come in. I know you have a life.”
Bring a baked good—nothing says old-fashioned community like carbohydrates and sugar. You can bring grapes for a healthier option. Bringing something calms that internal feeling of intrusion. Most of the time, you are the only one feeling and hearing it. The recipients of your affection are mostly happy to be chosen.
Be the inviter; rather than wait around for someone to stop by, tell someone you have Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday night free and, “You know, I wish there was more time in life to get together. I’d love for you to stop by for a cup of cocoa. I’ll even make sure I have mini-marshmallows in stock.” Be prepared to be slightly disappointed if no one shows, but you might be surprised and there’s always mini-marshmallows and reruns if they don’t show. And there’s Jesus . . . knowing He’s walking through every moment, every invitation, loving, planning, crafting, and caring. It’s a win-win situation: Whim visits.
Learn more about building relationships in Heidi’s study Altogether Beautiful.