Come as You Are is an invitation I’ve extended on my blog for years. When you’re known for freely sharing your bedlam moments — those messy, less-than-perfect moments — you start a mini revolution of women who need a place for theirs.
As a result, I get the most hilarious e-mails, texts, and pictures of crazy things other women know I’ll appreciate — odd stories of conversation bloopers, a dinner recipe that exploded on the ceiling or a favorite taco casserole that set off the smoke alarm, kids who wipe unmentionables on the walls next to their cribs, women who find something hilarious in a thrift store, and pictures of messy houses. Lots of messy houses.
Sometimes the stories are laced with such bravery amidst great pain because women know I’ll also understand that too. We can experience incredible freedom in sharing our stories — both the sidesplitting and the heart-rending. It’s what I want for this sisterhood of imperfect women.
Here’s a Come as You Are story I witnessed myself:
On a beautiful spring day, families gathered in our backyard for a cookout. My friend, Bonnie, had brought a unique fruit salad to contribute to the cookout. Kind of fruity, mainly dessert-y — we couldn’t figure out what exact category to place it in. But it was so yummy, and I told her I needed that recipe.
“Oh, it’s so easy,” she replied with a self-deprecating laugh, “so easy we made it in the backseat while we were driving here.”
My mouth dropped open.
She whispered how they’d had no time to make anything but she didn’t want to come empty-handed. So, she piled all the ingredients in the van, brought a huge mixing bowl, and made it while they were driving — spatula and all. She added, “Well, actually, I told my ten-year-old daughter how to make it, just so you don’t think I was a distracted driver.”
Imagine the hilarity of it! I grabbed my friend in a bear hug and exclaimed, “Bonnie, I love you now more than ever! This is my kind of bedlam. Can we please tell the other ladies your story?”
Nervous that they’d think she was crazy, she finally gave in. And after her comedic rendition of how they popped pineapple cans, dumped whip cream, mixed pudding, and added fruit — all in the van — we doubled over in laughter. To top it all, she volunteered one more detail about her story: embarrassed that people might see inside her van, she admitted she parked on the driveway so no one would walk past.
“Wait,” I inquired, “you mean it’s all still in your van? All the stuff you used to make it?”
Together we walked our long gravel driveway to her car, and there in the back seat of her minivan, filled with dirty bowls, remnants of whipped cream, spatulas covered in pudding, and empty fruit cans, I witnessed the most delightful symbolism of sisterhood. Chaos, mess, imperfection, flexibility, and leftovers — all mixed together to make something strikingly sweet and beautiful.
The sisterhood of imperfect friendship is all about sharing simple moments women are afraid to admit, of assuring one another we are welcome exactly the way we are. It’s the most profound gift of hospitality we can give. And when one person is willing to unveil her story first, it becomes a bridge, a visible gift to all those wondering if they were the only one. Bonnie’s hilarious vulnerability opened up the conversation that evening to many other stories, both funny and heartfelt.
Are you ready to extend that kind of life-giving hospitality? Opening up our lives, hearts, and homes to those around us can be complicated. I get that. Our schedules are crazy busy. People judge. Insecurity shuts us down and tells us to isolate. But for those of us brave enough to step forward in confidence and just open the door, a God-honoring, life-giving legacy awaits and you might even end up with a fun new recipe story to share too.