A House is Not a Home

For so many years, I have wanted a house. Not a big house or an extravagant house, but a house to call our own and in which to raise our family. I feel like a house is one of those marks of adulthood and like I haven’t made it until I am a homeowner. It excites and terrifies me all at the same time – having a house of your very own is a special thing, but being solely responsible for all the bits and pieces that go wrong is daunting!

Since we have been married, we have rented apartments – we are moving into a new one this weekend, and I’m excited for the blank canvas of a new space. After we moved the last time, my parents were gracious enough to allow us to rent their basement until we decided where we ultimately wanted to live. It has been such a blessing to have that time, but now I am excited to have a new space, a real kitchen and a bedroom for the babies!

I get caught in the trap of thinking that we must look inept to our friends and relatives because we don’t own our own home yet and are raising a family in a rented apartment. But this is just my own brain taking over and I remind myself that it’s not the walls and fixtures that make a home, it’s the people that love and share life there. I remember hearing a story once of a lady who had a fine house – it was pristine and beautifully decorated and when her friend came to visit, she noticed that she could still see the marks on the nice, thick carpeting where the vacuum had been. Huh, she thought, I don’t think you can even see my floor right now with all of the kids’ toys and footprints on the carpeting, much less marks from my vacuum! I don’t have nice decor or plush carpets. My color scheme isn’t much of a scheme at all – what a nice home she has! She has it all and must have her life together. But then the thought dawned on her that her friend still had those marks in her carpeting because she had no one in her home to mess them up, and she realized how much she would rather have a messy home filled with people to love than a nice, big house that is clean and has all the right furnishings. What she also didn’t realize is that as her friend watched her with her children, she would have gladly traded her nice things for a family to love.

I remember this periodically when I’m distressed at the fact that we don’t have a nice house, or fancy things. Those are not the things that make my space a home – sharing life day in and day out with my husband and daughter make any space home. I have been in tiny apartments and less than perfect living conditions, but you can bet that those places were home to me because my loved ones were there. The memories and laughter we have had within whatever walls we call home are so much more important than whether or not we share those walls with another family on the other side, or what is hanging on those walls.

I’m ashamed that I lose sight of what is important. I am so, so blessed to have a roof over my head and a comfortable space to share with those that I love more than anything. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that, and I think that us not having a nice big house and lots of stuff to distract me over the past few years has helped keep me more focused on the more important things in my life and just how incredibly blessed we are.

This was just a short one this week (and not very coherent!!) because there are boxes all over the place and babies with upset tummies and my mind is all over the place – but it seems to me that over the past few years, God has stripped me of a lot of the things I thought I needed in order to show me what really matters — some days this is really hard. I don’t think its wrong to want your house to look nice, and for me, I get anxious when my house is a mess – I just can’t function like that! But the most important thing to not lose sight of is that I have love in my home and people to share it with and that is truly all that matters. God has blessed me with what I needed and shown me that that was really all I ever wanted.

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