Earlier this year, I was invited to share about how discipleship looks in my home. After sharing our approach, my “style” of discipleship was given the title Welcome to My Messy Life. This is an endearing term to me – because at the core I am a (recovering) perfectionist who worries that if anyone saw the mess and muck of the REAL me, they’d go running for the hills. But the beauty of Christ in me, my hope of glory, is that He makes beautiful things out of the messes that are deep inside. And I am learning to walk in the freedom to be me and the friendships I enjoy, because of this learning process, are the deepest and safest I have ever known. My husband has set a tone in our home of authenticity. What you see is what you get with Dave Ludwig. It has always been this way. I, on the other hand, like everything to be buttoned-up and in place. But, over the years, he has taught me to value the sincerity of allowing people in, even when things are far from “perfect.”
Discipleship in our home has become just that – inviting people in, typically younger than us, and allowing them to be part of our life, our family, our dinner table. The food is not always perfectly tasty or hot, the kids can say awkward things, the rest of the house can be in total disarray. And what I’ve learned is that it actually puts people at ease. I’ve learned that when I am with someone whom I view as “perfect” or “having it all together,” I don’t leave feeling better about myself. I leave wondering what I’m doing wrong. I leave with a party favor of self-doubt. However, when I spend time with someone who is authentic and open, it sets me free to be me, in whatever shape I’m in.
Let’s face it – we all have our junk. We all have our quirks. And that is how we were made. It can be messy sometimes to rub up against someone. But the relationships in which I’ve shared my own moments of vulnerability have been far more rewarding than me somehow convincing everyone that it is possible to have a perfect home, perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect meal each night. I can only hope that as we open our home we are allowing people to see that there is no RIGHT way. We are consistently working things out in our marriage and parenting (though we’ve been working at both for a while). Since the people we have over are usually a stage or 2 in life behind us, my hope is that someday when they’re married with a pack of kids of their own – that they might remember the frazzled look on my face, or the enthusiasm when DADDY GETS HOME, or the stack of dishes in the sink, and be put at ease because these things are normal.
The other beautiful side of this is that we are inviting our children into the ministry that takes place in our home. We are teaching them to love people, serve people, listen to others, value their stories and their perspective. We are letting people close to our children that are also pursuing a depth and love for Christ. We are allowing other opinions to be shared. Typically, after dinner, we adults spend time together in the living room, while the kids go to bed or spend quiet time elsewhere. This backs up my belief that kids need to understand that while they are an infinitely important part of this family, they are not the center of this family. Only Christ is. Sometimes we all have to move over to allow others to be loved on and poured into. And our kids have learned that while we may, at times, need “adult time and conversation”, they are still loved and valued.
Discipleship can be an untidy business. And for those of us who believe that we somehow have to have our act together in order to be equipped or ready to pour into others – you are misled and missing out on the joy of relationships. Suzie has told us for years that one of the top requirements is a willing heart. We need to love Jesus and let Him teach us how to love and pour into others. We all have something to share. We all have something to give. And your life doesn’t need to be tied up with a pretty red bow to have value to someone else. Take it from me… and my messy life.