About the Author

Melissa Michaels is the NY Times Bestselling author of Love The Home You Have and The Inspired Room book. Her blog, The Inspired Room, was voted Better Homes & Gardens Readers' Favorite decorating blog in 2014 and 2015. Melissa is a church planter's wife and a mom to three human kids and...

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  1. So often when I read post like this, my heart sinks, deep at first. The open door is not the problem. I grew up learning how to “give” all kinds of gatherings. My mother taught me the art of a home that was welcoming no matter what was going on when the door was closed. My mother had a great gift of being a gracious hostess and making a gathering welcoming.

    The problem is when you have to require people to take an extra step in order to have a safe gathering. Living in a bubble because your immune system is shot, is no easy task. Helping people to understand why they cannot wear their favorite perfume, or why their laundry soap makes your throat close down, or why if they go some place else first and all the scents and fumes they bring will make you not able to breath, so they cannot visit other places first. All the demands for a safe visit offense others when they have not taken the time, or do not want to take the time to understand and make the visit safe.

    Living with a depressed immune system is a chronic illness millions of Americans live with daily, the threat from something that seems benign, but is not is a matter of survival. How do you have an open door, if you have to be so careful about what comes in that will affect your health? Every gathering exposes potential risk that is life threatening, but to others it seems like a personal choice, not a matter of health risk.

    If there is not compassion extended towards the hostess that is in a life or death situation, the hostess often gives up trying. There can never be that great gathering of friends and family because they have all grown tired of the measures that have to be taken to visit safely, so they do not come. It is not that the door is closed, but that it seems too much trouble to go through the steps in order to have a safe visit. No one ask to be ill with such a thing, so why are we isolated, not by personal choice, but by survival.

    In order to thrive one needs the physical contact with others. When this kind of illness plagues a home, the one person who is brave enough to come, realizes the burden on their shoulders, the heavy burden to be the one and maybe the only one who is the life line for this person to thrive. Where are the 99 in the sheep pin to go after the one?

    It has been proven in orphanages and nursing homes, that touch is required in order for children and adults alike to thrive. Yet, there are so many lonely people in this world because sometimes it requires something extra in order to step outside our selves to extend the hand of fellowship. It is this lack of willingness, which hurts, that I am not worth the extra effort, so I put myself at risk and put my life on the line in order to just have a hug.

    Nevertheless, often I ended up in the ER not being able to breath, or near unconscious, just for a hug. A voice crying in the wilderness, like the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around the only one to hear the sound, is God alone. A poet once wrote, “A leaf falls, loneliness.” E.E. Comings knew that no two leaves on a single tree falls together. When God alone provides all in order to thrive and survive it created physical isolation from others and it is not seen because no one is around to see it, but is that true. Just like the bully in the school year, people lower their heads and walk away, not wanting to get involved. Then the church wonders why they are losing membership. The act and art of fellowship is not being taught. The Bible tells us God as a reasonable duty of our love commands it. We are told how can we say the love of Christ is in us if we see our brother or sister in need and do nothing about it. A person will extend their hand only so often before out of protection, they will stop extending it, not because of the hurt but because of the behaviors of others who send a message, they are not worth it.

    We do not realize how business comes off to others, not having the time. We can make time for things that are important to us, so the message is clear, we are not important enough for others to make the time or effort for a safe visit. The door is not closed it stands wide open, no one is walking through it.

      • DONNA
        I READ YOUR MSG AND I FEEL FOR YOU. IT HAS TO BE THE WORST SITUATION FOR YOU. I HAD A QUICK THOUGHT, WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO BEGIN WITH MAYBE 2 WOMEN? IF YOU COULD LET THEM HEAR YOUR WORDS THEY MAY FEEL THE COMPASSION OF OUR GOD AND AGREE TO YOUR LIMITATIONS FOR THE REASON OF BEGINNING A FRIENDSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN’T GET OUT.

        LOVE OLIVIA

  2. Eileen, I’m so sorry that you have this added struggle with building community. Certainly there are all kinds of issues people deal with that make it more challenging to connect, but the need is still there for the open door and someone to walk through it.

    Your local community building will not look the same as a chocolate night and it isn’t as simple as just showing up, but I pray there will be awareness of your need and women in your community who will take the extra precautions necessary to walk through your door, call you on the phone to encourage you, or do whatever it takes to wrap their arms around you and include you in whatever way possible.

    Thanks for sharing your heart so we can be sensitive to being women who open doors and walk through them even when the effort required is greater.

  3. This a great reminder and call to action. It’s often easy to complain about the lack of community these days. Sometimes, though, we need to be the one to create those opportunities to build new relationships. I know I’m guilty of indulging my introverted side as well so it takes a lot of intentional effort on my part to reach out to others.

  4. I’m working on building community at work. I have this co-worker who has been through a lot this past year with children moving out then back home (2 at once), starting a new job, learning new software, moving another child across the country during your Christmas break, visiting aging parents across the country, etc.

    This week I invited her to see a Chonda Pierce, Christian comedian, with me after work one Thursday. She accepted and is bringing her oldest daughter. That is the daughter who at 28 had to move back home, no job & most friends from college are married and having children. Tough on both sides.

    I figured that they could both use a Girls’ night out so we are getting together with 3 people from my church and going to enjoy the night!

  5. What a great way to reach out! I love it!

    My husband’s family (brother/wife & parents) all moved to Washington state last year. We are all so far apart but do try to keep current in each other’s lives. I know that the first priority they had once arriving in Wenatchee was to connect with other believers. They are loving Washington & their church family there.

    Your post reminds me, not to be afraid to reach out! And if you’re scared, throw in chocolate…it makes everyone brave.

  6. I live in Roy, Wa, and was wondering where in Wa you are located? I would love to venture to a crafting day & make new friends. Are you close to my area? Thank you for the writtings, I enjoy them so much.

    • They are really simple! Guess I should do a tutorial on them. We mostly just were winging it and the patterns we did have I think we just found on Pinterest :-). I am not much of a crafter so when I do something, it has to be EASY! I just folded and layered fabric circles (we bought pre-cut quilting circles) and then stitched them together.

      Here is a link to a bunch of them on Pinterest, just click on the photos for the tutorials:

      http://pinterest.com/search/?q=flower+pin+tutorial

      Hope this helps!

  7. I too live in Washington and was wondering where you are! I would love a craft day!

    I am busy building a homesschool community. It is work but it is so worth it. I am naturally introverted so it takes an extra dose of God’s working each time I venture out to meet new people and sometimes it is exhausting. But I do enjoy it.

  8. Love your heart and all that you are doing! I’ve been on both sides of the coin – the one planning when the others didn’t prioritize…AND the one who was a little insecure and so didn’t make community a priority. Wow… as an introvert who really does LOVE people… this stuff can be tough!

    Anyway, thanks so much for your thoughts today. 🙂

  9. Thank you, Melissa. I live in Argentina, but your comments were a help to this introvert. Great ideas.

  10. Melissa,

    I really enjoyed this post. A Pastor’s wife too, I have experienced the “building from scratch,” as well as “reboots” as they are often called. Either way, it takes a lot of effort to reach out to your community at large, while attempting to build a community within a community.

    Our first Home Missions work (from scratch) was 2100 miles from my familiar home, community and friends. It seemed overwhelming at first. Then we began to open doors offering community prayer walks for all beginning at the green, or square of the city. They continued to grow, as did out church community. I have sweet memories of some very special times with beautiful people. I did a lot of leaning on God, as He helped my husband and I see how to create open doors for our community at large.

    Thank you for your post.

    Blessings ~ Debra

  11. I’ve been following your blog on FB for some time and had NO IDEA that you are a Pastor’s wife, or that you live in WA! After I read that in this post, I had to dig through your blog to find out more. Your church plant sounds amazing. And, as someone who has lived in many places, building community in this part of the country is H.A.R.D! I hope that opening up a regular event like MOPS in your church allows women to connect deeply and authentically.

    I LOVE connecting with other women. It takes a lot of hard work, intentionality, and consistency to build community. But, it so worth all of the effort. Five years ago I started a women’s book club in my community. I cannot believe we are still going strong, have really nurtured relationships and have had some life changing discussions, not to mention A TON OF FUN! I hope others who read this post will be encouraged to step through that door, Melissa. Thank you for writing with such grace.

    • Yes, it is hard, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to MOPS and hope that regular time together as moms is going to really strengthen us. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement!

  12. I really appreciate this article and am on the board of directors for our church ministry. We’re constantly in search of new ideas to spread our “open door” hospitality to our community. I love the flower pin idea, do you happen to know if there is a pattern for that craft? Thank you for the inspiration this website provides. Blessings to you in your ministry.