When my husband and I got married we were given a picture that read “Home is where your story begins”. We hung it above the cupboards in the little apartment we moved into after the wedding. I thought the picture was tacky, to say the least. But my husband had carefully done the measuring and hung the thing, so, being the good wife that I had promised to be, I did not take it down. There it hung, day after day, from its’ monumental place on our kitchen wall, mocking me from my lowly position on the couch. I can’t quite figure out why the quote bothered me so. I think it was partly due to the fact that I was young – only 20 – and had little understanding of what “home” actually meant. I grew up in one, but those days of being the little girl who relied on her mother’s stir fry and nightly prayers for sustenance were years behind me. I was married, now, with a “home” of my own. But those four walls of our apartment felt suffocating to me, with the atrocious pea green door and 2 measly windows. I didn’t see any grand story beginning in that place.
It’s been almost 10 years since my husband and I said our vows and nailed that picture to the wall. Now we live in a house that is more tailored to our taste, with many of its’ additions having been built with my husband’s own two hands. It’s a lot brighter, more spacious, and there is thankfully not a spot of green to be seen. But I’ve learned that home is something so much more than the four walls surrounding you. Because that place? It’s where renovations happen, when there’s all of a sudden a layer of sawdust on every surface. It’s where the smell of paint thinner has made its’ way into every room. It’s where the floors are always covered in crumbs and the walls in last weeks’ spaghetti sauce. It’s where the furniture is spotted with age and the carpets with stains.
As a stay-at-home mom, with two young children, I bear most of the responsibility to be the “homemaker”. The maker of a home. I don’t always feel up for it. I am tired. I am annoyed that all of my jeans are faded at the knees because I’ve spent so much time wiping spills off the floor. I have dreams I want to pursue but am continuously interrupted by diaper blow-outs, bad dreams, and bad attitudes.
How do I put my energy into making a home when my patience is worn thin, my love draining, my motivation weak?
I know I haven’t been the maker of home I ought to be. I say no, again, to hide-and-seek. I don’t listen to their stories as intently as they’d like. I raise my voice when yet another meal gets thrown off the table.
But I don’t have to let my failures define me. I don’t have to let this discouragement carry me into the next moment.
I am so gently reminded that this “home” lives and begins, in me. Yet it doesn’t rely on my own doing.
“…you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.” (Colossians 1:11)
I don’t have to do this thing alone.
“…depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)
I actually can’t do this thing alone. Not well, anyways.
So today I am taking a breath, and letting the pressure slide off of my shoulders. I am saying yes to the help that lives in me. Knowing that the goal is not to get everything right.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I know the goal is not perfection. Not even close.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
I take joy in the fact that love conquers all. Even my own restlessness. The more I receive of it, the more I can give.
Today, my arms are open wide. That place is home. And that is where my story begins.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)