Who gets the invite into your space? It’s your life? You and only you get to choose where you’re going, and what you’re doing. Unless you give someone else permission to choose your life for you. Even then, you’re making the choices.
Today, let’s imagine your life as four settings, specific rooms of a house if you will. There is the front porch, the living room, the dining room, the back porch, and the bedroom. In your life, do they all receive the same symbolic value? If they receive the same value, then you will give equal access to people into these places of your life.
1. The Front Porch. This is the place of common conversation. As culture changes, the front porch looks different for many people. It used to be surface level conversations face to face. Now, it is surface level conversations via text or facebook. So, who do you invite on to your front porch. How crowded is your front porch? You can have so many people on your front porch, that you spend all your time on surface level conversations.
2. The Living Room. This is the place of conversation that may run a little deeper than just getting to know you. A living room is comfortable, and there are pictures throughout the living room of family. In the living room is an over-arching story, and the understanding of who you are and where you come from. The living room is an invitation. People don’t just walk into our living rooms unannounced. We invite them there. How many people are you inviting into the story of your life? If you keep everyone on the front porch, you may become unacquainted with your own story yourself. You may become so involved with the surface level relationships out front, that you forget that inviting others into your own life is important. However, it is difficult for everyone to fit in your living room. Your front porch has access to the yard, so people can walk around out there, and easily come and go. The living room though has the idea that people will be around a little bit longer than they will on the front porch. The living room invitation lets people know that you have welcomed them into your life.
3. The Dining Room. This is where you really get to know someone. Ever wonder why Jesus was always eating? This is the place where you are laughing, telling stories, and truly cultivating great relationships. Once again, who do you invite into the dining room? Does everyone get the invite? How crowded is it? If the dining room is always packed, you might just miss out on getting to know a few at the table because of the sheer size of the party. When the front porch has been invited directly to the dining room, it feels more like a party than a true getting to know you conversation. So who really get the invite into that place of your life.
4. The Back Porch. This is where conversations run deeper. Pull up a few nice chairs outside, and enjoy the evening. Your closest friends get to be there. This is the place of true relationship. Sharing struggles, laughter, and memories. The place where people who know you well will tell you the truth. Who do you invite to your back porch? Once again, everyone does not fit there.
5. The Bedroom. Maybe the most disturbing thing in America today is that the front porch and the bedroom seem to be the place where dating happens. The bedroom is the most sacred place, but a quick invitation to it tramples on the value of it. I think that’s why the writer of Hebrews says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Besides it being sin, inviting many people into your bedroom reduces the value of it. With a low sense of value on the bedroom, intimacy is lessened. As Andy Stanley says, “Purity paves the way to intimacy.” If you share the bedroom with everyone, you are saving it for no one.
Now, after writing about these five categories of rooms, let’s take a look at day to day life. It is difficult to manage all of these rooms. It is difficult to do something different when people you know to the television to the movies to the magazines may be doing the same thing. Living without a sense of boundaries. Some people don’t like boundaries. But I would say that we protect what we value. Nobody gets mad that their bank has boundaries. Nobody seems upset that their houses have boundaries known as doors which have locks on them, and sometimes security systems.
We’ve all had different struggles with different levels of the five rooms I’ve mentioned. So nobody start feeling high and holier than thou about how they’ve done with the rooms. This isn’t about that. This is about defining boundaries. Does everyone get equal access to your life? Does everyone get to know you how they want to? And maybe the biggest question is, how good are you at saying no?
If no is hard, then you’ll have a difficult time of keeping people out of rooms you don’t want them to be in. And yes, no is often tough to say. I didn’t realize until a few months ago how hard of a time I have in saying no to people. Then I came to understand this had to do with a battle I had in loving and respecting myself.
No means that you value and respect yourself. No means other people don’t get to choose your life for you. No means you have already said yes to something else. Something like worth. Respect. Purity. Future love. Or it might just say, “I’ve already said yes to Jesus as Lord.”