In all my searching for what makes a home, what I’ve returned to again and again, is really – people make a home. And, if I’m going to call myself a “home-maker”, that means I carry the weight of putting into the home what we want to get out of it: peace, gratitude, safety, refuge, joy, faithfulness. I take care of it, it takes care of us. Beautiful things can help call our minds to a higher place where the Spirit works in us, but they don’t do it alone. Hearts call us to a place where peace, gratitude, safety, refuge, and joy can grow.
As the center of our daily family life, what is in my heart constantly overflows to those in my care. I am, hands down, the one who talks the most on a daily basis around here. At least until Rosie turns four. 🙂 I keep our routines, our plans, our meals, our laundry and all the things to keep us all functioning throughout the week, which requires just a whole lot of words. It is so easy for me to get flustered and frustrated as I’m trying to get through my homemaking to-do’s, and these people of mine get in the way. Doesn’t that sound terrible? But if I had to name what was in my heart in those moments, that would be it.
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” -Proverbs 15:4
When I picture a “tree of life” I picture a huge tree with arms outstretched, housing every sort of creature that needs a nest, or a refuge from the snow, or some shade from the hot sun. I see its roots digging deep (maybe the same proverbial tree planted near streams of water?), anchoring deep into the solid earth, steady in the wind and the rain. I see everything I desire to see in our home: peace, gratitude, safety, refuge, joy, faithfulness. A place of encouragement for anyone who needs it. And this short Proverb tells me this type of home comes from my tongue, not from the type of house we have.
I can’t bear the thought of breaking anyone’s spirit – especially my child’s. I can already think of many times I have allowed perverseness – taking something good and making it more important than Christ – to take control of my heart, and therefore my tongue. I hate that. When I seek to create a beautiful house, a good gift, and make it the prerequisite to serving Jesus with my home, I have perverted my priorities and the evidence will overflow from my heart, into biting, impatient, discouraging words.
On the other side of that, when I am grateful to the Giver and my heart is filled with Truth, I see my people instead of my things, and my words are gentle. Often, the real ministry that happens here is fully present, deeply personal, and/or just not very pretty. Those are the times when it doesn’t matter that I haven’t hung those frames or arranged the bookshelf. The times that aren’t always Insta-worthy. Those moments are so tender that a quick social media post will not only break my focus, but cheapen what is happening right in front of me. This is the life I desire, and the refuge I am eager for my home to be.
It starts with me. I wish this was something I could accomplish in a few easy steps, but that’s not how hearts work. There are no real “Before & After” photos of this change to share, because we become who we are in the small, consistent choices we make every day. My only hope to create this Tree of Life in my heart and in my home is to return to Jesus again and again, abiding in Him, living with gratitude for whatever He gives or withholds – good or bad. A salt pond can’t produce sweet water, and I truly desire to be a broken vessel holding sweet water for my family and the world.
Could we start in this home?