Open Doors, Closed Doors: Friends, family, drama, and boundaries

What are the doors like in your house? The front and back doors of my house are painted a jolly white, with six little farmhouse windowpanes in each. If someone knocks on the door, you can easily see who came to visit. There's no straining to see out a peephole or standing on my tippy-toes to assess the identity of an unexpected visitor. The bad part—there's no hiding from anyone either. If you walk near the door to see who it is, your long shadow will fall across the curtains and signify that someone is home. If you tried to crouch down and avoid someone, the sound of your footsteps would be all too obvious. Can you picture me doing this? Squatting down low enough, like I'm playing a game with my two-year-old, hiding from the eye of my visitor?

It sounds ridiculous, but it's happened. Why am I hiding? Why am I avoiding at all costs this visitor at my door?

Because people are so much work.

I love people. I really do, but I am completely aware that they come with drama. I'm sure you are too. I know I'm not the only one going to great lengths to remain hidden, sneaking upstairs before the door-visitor can spy me.

The question is . . . how much? How often do I put up real and imaginary closed doors to my heart, my life, and my home? When am I just hiding from the things that matter in life, the people who are very much valued by God, because relationships seem like so much work?

We all need a minute; I get that. Our homes are to be safe places where our families can relax, where the world melts away, and where our children, our spouses, and our own selves feel able to just be. However, on this pilgrimage called life, people were never intended to be a burden, even with the weight of life and all of its trouble. People were given to us as a gift. We were meant to live life together in Christ.

We often avoid people because they come with weight. Life isn't simple. Relationships take time and energy. We could easily say that we have enough “trouble” to deal with in the hectic reality of our own homes and immediate families, much less let in someone else's stuff. The question isn't about who we are letting in. Rather, it's about what we are letting in.

We think we can protect our families and leave trouble outside our door if we minimize our relationships, if we stay in the safe zone of our warm and cozy homes. If we wrap our children up tight in blankets of protection, surely no one can get to them there. We'll let them out for school, we'll go get our groceries, go to work, maybe church . . . but let someone into our lives enough to let them into our homes? No, thank you very much. Just no.

The devil would love it if we let fear rule in our hearts and in our relationships, but we are invited to live outside of that in Christ Jesus.

In John 14:1–2, there is an interesting exchange between Jesus and the disciples. I'm sure these verses sound familiar:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (ESV)

Let not your hearts be troubled. These verses at face value are about heaven, not earth. We have peace in knowing we have a place with God the Father in heaven. Look at it again, in the context of life and all of Scripture's message:

God loves us so much that He is preparing rooms for us.

He has an open-door policy.

He lets all our burdens and baggage and struggle in, so that Christ can do His work in us. He knows we take the phrase “It's complicated” to a whole new level, but He invites us in anyway.

We, each of us, are the image of God to all of the souls walking around in our lives. What if we invited people in just a little more often? When we invite them into our homes; love on them around our table; laugh with them on our sofa; fill them with hope in the form of an open space and conversation; and share the Word of a limitless, loving God, we get the blessing of life together filling our homes.

There are certainly times for boundaries, but who in your life could you welcome through your door? Who could use an invitation to relationship that would leave both of you with another level of safety and care than you had without each other? How do our children learn the art of relationship and care when they see us in action, inviting and sharing?

In our world today, the invitation itself can be a shocking way to share Jesus with our neighbor.

Whom can you invite in? How can you open your door and let someone see the Father of many rooms and the Savior who makes the invitation possible?

Christ Jesus, You died so that we may live, and You desire us to really live—not in fear but in full assurance of the grace found in Your death and resurrection. We pray that you would guide us. Show us to whom we should open our doors. Give us strength when relationships feel weary. Bless our homes and our doors to be the instruments of Your care for our families and others You place in our lives. Father, thank You for the promise of many rooms. Help our doors to be open enough to invite others into life together with us and life eternal with You. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. 

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Heidi Goehmann

Heidi is a licensed clinical social worker and mental health provider, deaconess, writer, speaker, wife, mom, and advocate. She can always be found at, advocating and providing resources for mental health and genuine relationship. Heidi loves her family, sticky notes, Jesus, adventure, Star Wars, Star Trek, and new ideas . . . not necessarily in that order.

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