As I've gotten older I have realized that my need for 'stuff' has diminished quite a bit. At one point I wanted brand new wardrobes for each season, and then I quickly discovered that my clothes color pallet exists in this order: greys, earth tones, and more grey. The comfier the outfit the better; give me all the joggers, giant wool cardigans, and an abundance of fuzzy socks and I am GOLDEN. My husband jokes with me that before we were married I would say, "Beauty is pain," (WHO made up that quote?!) and now I fully admit that I actually believe beauty is COMFORT.
I once had a friend though, that made me feel so terrible about the fact that I wanted to have things. That and drying or straightening my hair/wearing makeup, she called me 'high maintenance.' The literal definition of that adjective is 'needing a lot of work to keep in good condition.' Demanding, challenging, difficult, hard to please--all synonyms of high maintenance. I remember asking Asa, "Am I high maintenance because I want to do my hair before photos?" and he'd say, "No, there is nothing wrong with wanting that." I would talk to her about my desire to have a big beautiful house, two stories, and in it, beautiful things. She would remind me that she didn't 'need' anything; if it were up to her, she'd live in a tiny house and have the bare minimum within it. There was nothing wrong with her desires. But there was largely something wrong with the way I felt most times after hanging out with her.
Over the years and having lots of space between us, I have grown up quite a bit (thank you, Jesus). There isn't anything wrong with me wanting to do my hair, or putting on makeup. It doesn't make me less of a free woman that I often do those two things. My husband and I started our lives in a dirty, one bedroom, dark apartment. Our second wasn't much of an upgrade, but definitely brighter and better than the first. Our first home was beautiful; a restored 1900 bungalow with character that spoke to every person who walked in the front entry. While we searched for the newest home that we are currently it, we both agreed that it needed to LOOK nice. We thought we wanted a fixer-upper, but we didn't. We wanted open, bright, with lots of natural light, and it had to be two stories [my request.] We yearned for a place to host, to gather our people--friends and family that would eat around our table and laugh by the fireplace.
I recently started Jen Hatmaker's newest book 'Of Mess and Moxie,' and friends, within it she spoke my heart. I often wondered how to put into words what I felt about owning beautiful things or having a gorgeous house, and by golly, she wrote them.
"Dear one, may I say something? It is not shallow or empty or frivolous to create a beautiful space to live in. It's not silly, not vainglorious, not a waste of time and energy. It doesn't make you superficial nor slides you down the godly scale. We spend the majority of our hours in our homes with our people. Creating beauty and nurture under your roof with colors that soothe, art that inspires, furniture that invites, and textures that thrill is a wonderful use of your small space on the planet" (67).
If where you want to live is in a high rise in the city, by all means, live that dream. And if your heart longs and loves large and open spaces, sister, you do YOU. We shouldn't make each other feel bad when the desire in our hearts is joy and happiness. We shouldn't label our friends by what they wear or don't wear, eat or don't eat. Jen also says this, which duh, I love:
"Home is the scene of so much love and happiness, community and pot roasts. It is where you invite people in and say, 'You are so welcome in this place.' It is the reel our children will replay in memory of the leather chair you read in, the farmhouse table you shared, the braided rug where you played eleventy-billion games of Chutes and Ladders. It is your little corner of the earth, entirely. YOURS to make lovely. In a world increasingly dominated by fear and violence and isolation and loneliness, you can claim restoration under your roof, where people are nurtured and loved and fed and embraced, where God reigns and hope is spoken..." (70)
I love that Jesus has intertwined mine and Asa's hearts in that we both love people and more than that, we love gathering with them. I don't like to cook, but he does! And I find joy in cleaning, dusting, and rearranging things like candles and flowers. We love having a beautiful home that has TONS of light, inviting furniture [seriously, thank you Havertys], and there's no shame in the fact that I think white walls are calming. More significantly than the beauty that exists here, Jen was so right when she talks about nourishing and caring for our little ones here. My number one job is to love and serve my husband but ALSO to train up my children to follow and serve the Lord. "Making your home pretty is nice," she writes, "but making it nourishing is holy" (70).
I don't want you to think for a minute though, that the home we chose is perfect or that it has to BE perfect to be beautiful. I actually often talk in the future tense, "In our next home I want to do this differently or add this or change this," because I don't believe this is our forever home. I still long for acreage and horses surrounding the greenery around me, but my heart is happy here, for now. I actually have a gorgeous blue velvet couch that I only once dreamt about. I have a matching console and cocktail table. I have an eight-foot farmhouse table where a TON of people gathered for Thanksgiving. And I LOVE that Jen Hatmaker mentioned how God created the wildflowers and waterfalls and pine trees and hummingbirds and warm sand and mountain ranges and tulips; because He very clearly doesn't think that beauty is nonsense (67). "If God decided to make his whole earth pretty, we can choose to make our little homes pretty without tension, guilt, or shame." For us, we choose beauty to bring people to gather. Our home isn't huge, but it's open and our table is large.
May we never forget our dream of hosting and creating, regardless of where we end up next. (Please be on land, please be on land, please be on land!) And may YOU believe that where you are and what you dream about is beautiful too.
*Please don't allow anyone else's negative comments or shaming hurt you. You were created with visions and dreams, passions and talents. It's an ongoing battle that I continue to go forward with comments that have hurt me, but time has been a healing agent and I just want you to know that YOU are wonderful!!!*