“We think of beautiful spaces and comforting traditions as spiritually unnecessary and underestimate the profound importance of a safe place for growing minds and souls.” –Sarah Clarkson in “The Life Giving Home”
I have a hard time explaining in words why creating my home is important, why it matters deeply. To some it’s merely decorating; to others it’s a quest for perfection. Being marred by those lenses, the pursuit of creating home can seem worthless, or frivolous at best. The eye-opening moment of truth is when you experience the fruit of home creation. When you feel welcomed as yourself, restful in a space that somehow can’t be described in words.
My freshman year in college, I lived in an old, flaky-walled dorm with one other girl. I set up my side of the room to have a reading nook, string lights, breezy curtains, and a giant poster of cherry blossoms by my bed. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, I came to the school with no friends I knew, but I had this safe place that was me. I would play soft music in the evenings if I was by myself and read, I would open the windows and let the sounds of people talking down on the street drift in. I lit prohibited candles (shhh) and journaled.
It wasn’t “designed” or photo-worthy, but it contained beauty and purpose and was a place of refuge. Without ever consciously knowing it, having a place I made my own gave life to me. I could be myself, I wasn’t seeking to be understood by others, I felt safe. It was a temporary, shared space, yet the pursuit of making it “home” wasn’t a lost cause.
Some of you rent, some of you own, some of you may only have a bedroom that’s your own. Making that space an expression of you, making it a place you enjoy and understand? It’s not pointless. It’s not just decorating, it’s not just trying to impress others. If you are reading this, you most likely understand the power of true home, but maybe you have been discouraged because it seems like an unwise way to spend money or time.
I think the diminished importance of home has come with the increased acceptance of “busyness” as a badge of honor. Homes have become houses for sleeping and eating, places to store the junk we don’t even use. We always grab coffee and lunch elsewhere instead of welcoming friends into our neglected home. It’s much safer, much more comfortable to meet somewhere else, somewhere we won’t be judged or observed. Coffee houses and restaurants have become more welcoming environments than our own homes! We are painfully aware of the lack of peace and comfort in our homes but feel wrong for desiring to improve it.
Don’t think for a second you have to have a photo ready home to feel like yourself in it. I certainly don’t condone using money you don’t have or becoming stressed about things not being perfect. But, I am becoming more comfortable in saying that I believe decorating and improving my home is important. It is part of what I am personally called to do! My mission may not come out in perfect words, but when guests come here and experience it, I get comments like, “It feels so peaceful in here,” or, “I feel so cozy!” Friends eat here and linger for hours. Meaningful conversations arise that spring from a feeling of security, a real feeling of home. We bought this home in the hopes it would be a place that encourages creativity, fun, and friendship, and as I pursue these things, they happen!
The lit candles are worth it. The thrift shopping to find the right piece at the right price is worth it. The expression of myself and my style is worth it. It’s not stupid, it’s not selfish, it’s not eternally insignificant. I really do believe if more people embraced creating home and the meals, the laughter, the comfort that comes from them, our world would be a little better. There is SO much inspiration that art, design, and beauty brings to each person. We were created to enjoy His creation and further creating.
I hope that even if you never have before, you would consider discovering what home means to you. Trust me when I say it is a worthy cause! It doesn’t have to cost much money at all, and it doesn’t have to be trendy or photo-worthy. It just gets to be your safe place, your place of mental and spiritual rest, an expression of you and your family. It’s not a silly pursuit; don’t give up on it!