One of the greatest struggles I have today is to find contentment in the place I live. I was blessed to get to spend the holidays with my parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. And I was cursed to have to say goodbye. I love getting to visit my childhood home. But each trip brings with it a downpour of discontentment upon returning to my own family’s home.
Just the other day, after returning from our trip north for Christmas, I found myself upset. It was pretty shameful actually. I was reflecting on the numerous ways that God has blessed me and my husband this past year (details for another post), and I was angry. Here’s the shameful part. I was angry because even though God has repeatedly provided my family with exactly what we need, when we need it, it hasn’t been in the way I wanted it to be. Specifically because I’m not living where I want, in the time frame that I wanted. I know perfectly well how ridiculous it all was, but that day, my self-confrontation was LOW.
I wish I could tell you that that was the only day I’ve felt angry over my living situation, but it wasn’t. And I’m more than certain that it won’t be the last. However, despite my struggle with discontentment, God has provided me with this simple, yet profound truth: He has me exactly where he wants me--in time, place, occupation, passions, health, family, etc.--for a distinct purpose. Whether I know the specifics of that purpose or not. That truth right there gives me fire to fight for contentment in my current situation. Even in the place I presently call “home.”
What makes a house a home? Most people would likely give you the cliche answer that it’s not the structure or material aspect of a house that makes it a home, but rather it’s the people within it that make it a home. In essence, you can make any place a home, as long as you have the ones you love with you.
So, what about when that’s not enough? What about when (at 24 years of age, with a saint-like husband and your own incredibly angelic four-month old son) you’re so stinkin’ homesick for your mom and dad’s house, that you want to cry and scream like your year and half old niece when a toy is taken away from her? As if you’ve been mortally wounded and won’t EVER recover.
What about the times when your house is so disarrayed, that no matter what encouraging, comforting words your husband has for you, and no matter how true those words may be, the most satisfying solution seems to be to torch the whole dang place…Except, you live in a duplex, and setting it ablaze would kind of not just affect you....
And what about when you’re so overwhelmed with the responsibilities that come with caring for a four month-old, with managing a house, with trying to reconcile the always trying male-female communication differences in your marriage, with finding time in your crazy busy schedule to be with friends, let alone train for a marathon, write a blog, start a business...And the list goes on.
See, for me anyway, the mere idea that the people in my house are what makes it feel like home, isn’t enough. I still regularly have the semi-fleeting thought that taking an unannounced, solo, three day vacation would be pretty nice. And in all seriousness, I have an incredibly beautiful family. I need more than an idea...However, a straight jacket might do the trick.
After years of wanting to live a lot closer to my parents and family, I’ve decided that making my house a home is not something that magically happens. It’s a lot like this little marathon that my husband, sister, and self are training for. It takes a whole lot of good ole’ fashioned HARD WORK….And surrender, prayer, communication, perseverance, help...And a little profanity. When the baby isn’t in the room, of course.
Surrendering to the fact that God has a purpose for every detail of my life, in its current state. Not just the people, but including the structure within which I live.
Prayer to keep that truth at the forefront of my mind, even when everything within me wants to pack up all our belongings and just move...Prayer that I can hear and accept the steadfast wisdom of my very level-headed and strong husband.
Communication about when I’m REALLY really fighting discontentment, so that the root of the issue can be found and dealt with.
Perseverance in my daily responsibilities of being a mom and managing my household--in cleaning, organizing my time and belongings, and treating the place in which I live as if it is my home, so that my family can thrive within its walls.
And asking for help. Literally asking my mom-in-love (I don’t really care for the term “in-laws,” especially with how awesome mine are!) to come play with my baby so that I can catch up on cleaning around the house.
And this is what I can tell you about doing the above things. For me, they actually help me to love the place in which I live, and to be more free to love the people within it. By investing my thoughts, time, and physical energy into my house, I start to feel like it belongs to me. It’s mine. For now, anyway.
My house becomes a place that I am willing to fight for. Even to fight against my own angering thoughts of discontentment. It becomes a place I am willing to surrender to, to pray for, to communicate about, to persevere for, and for which I get help. It becomes a place I value, and learn lessons from. Maybe some of the most valuable lessons. And a place that I can be thankful for, because of the things it provides for the people I love. It becomes a place that is more than deserving of my hard work. Maybe making my house home is little more than hard work alone...Maybe it is a little magical too.