Thursday, January 17, 2008

Searching for Home in a World on the Move

My husband, Bill, and I had our first date when he came to my parents' house to see me during a college winter break. We went downstairs to the finished basement, a rec room with old furniture and a ping-pong table. We sat on the old brown couch with nubby fabric, sharing our hopes and dreams with each other. I remember feeling comfortable and safe with Bill. I remember the somewhat pungent smell of the old couch. And I remember when we talked how we both were aching for home- a home of our own. He wanted to build a house, and I wanted to nest in one, decorate it, and fill it with all the things that would make me smile with joy.

What we wound up doing instead, after we were married, was moving- a lot. We moved twenty times in twenty-three years of marriage. The early moves were due to seminary housing constraints and internships in pastoral ministry. Then the moves were to small pastorates in New England in hopes of revitalizing them. After finally deciding to leave the renewal ministry, we needed to find a way to make a living. So we entered the world of rehabbing houses: buying a home, moving into it, fixing it up, and selling it. We were young. We were hopeful. And we kept moving onward.

If someone had told me when I, Lauren the Homebody, was a child, that I would marry and spend the next twenty plus years in a continual state of moving onward but never really settling down, I would have barricaded myself in my room and dared someone to drag me out of there! But God knew the journey He had for me. The Lord knew the temptation I had to make my home base my refuge- to the point that I might never want to venture out.

Many of us struggle with this. After all, we live in a precarious world. Ever since 9/11, Americans have been increasingly aware of feeling at risk in a scary world. Some people escape from the stress and the tension of our times by imagining that perfect home they can create, the place where they will, then, be safe and sound.

The rise of Jane Austen’s popularity and the demand for British dramas depicting grand homes and the sweet social graces of yesterday are not the only signs that we long for a place where we will feel at peace. Home renovation has become a national pastime, with day time cable shows covering every aspect of home revitalization, interior decorating, gourmet cooking, custom closet organization, entertaining secrets, and more.

The idea is that we can create a perfect place to come home to, subtly implying that then we will experience comfort and security, the promise of perfect peace. Then we will have no fears, no insecurity, no alarm. (And we have our intricate, expensive home security systems to help with this!)

We, as Christians, know where our perfect peace should be. We know it’s in Him, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes, though, we want something more concrete to touch, to look at, to nest in. Sometimes we want a tangible fortress, a secure, rock solid home. The Psalmist shares how we all long for the place where we will be eternally comforted, protected and at peace- in the presence of the living God.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you” (Psalm 84:1-4 NIV).

Sometimes waiting to get to His House, our eternal home, is too much waiting for us. We want to nest and find our complete security in our home, right now.

I’ve had many nests in many places. When I look back at each time we would get ready to move, I realize the thing that kept me going, that enabled me to make it through that draining process of packing and moving, was the fact that I looked forward to my next house. I envisioned it beautifully decorated with gleaming new fixtures and warm welcoming rooms. I held that image in my mind as a child clutches its security blanket.

I believe God has allowed me to be stretched in this area of moving and learning to make every house we lived in a temporary home. He desires to see me enlarged in my focus, in my longing.

God knows the desire we have to settle down, to feel safe and secure at home. He gave us this “nesting” desire. But our frenzied pursuit of the perfect home could very well be an indication that we haven’t fully rested all our hope on the Eternal Home we have ahead of us. This desire for nesting, for making a house into a home, is an indicator of our heart’s true desire. It’s an appetite for an eternal safety and security, really. We will find it realized fully on the day we stand in awe of Him, having arrived at our final Home.

Until then, I pursue with delight the things that help turn each house into a home. I enjoy baking bread and pies, decorating with vivid colors, having an afternoon teatime with my beautiful antique cups and saucers. I creatively plan how to beautify each house. I do the best that I can with each house we live in.

But no home will ever satisfy me perfectly and eternally. That Home awaits me, and I keep my eyes heavenward ... every time we move.


Lisa said...

Hey Lauren! cute you and your family are! Love, love, love your haircut. :)

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I am thrilled that the information was helpful to you and inspired you to move forward with your message. It sounds like you share my love for writing.

Definately keep moving forward! With my first book, I made it through the first stage with two big presses and then was ultimately rejected by both of them. That was a hard pill to swallow when I had put my writing/ ideas out there like that. Sometimes it's harder to get a "no, thank you" when your project is in the pipeline and you feel hopeful and optimistic about it after getting over that first very important hurdle of even being considered! I know how you feel, and it is hard.

I know you know this -- God is the great orchestrator of all, and that includes your writing "career." In the meantime, keep encouraging others through your fantastic blog. Please feel free to stop by and see me anytime!

On the journey with you!
Lisa :)

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

You're too sweet. Thank you for the encouragement. I know my readers will love visiting you at your blog. You tell it like it is- and that kind of honesty is so refreshing!

~Robin said...

oh Lauren, I posted on this very thing this morning! My own questions about if I should even have a home of my own. We too have moved alot-12 times in 21 years...and were in a rental house now that I cant paint or make my own. I am SO tired of white walls and the uncertainty of having no roots. Yet I am challenged to grow my roots in the Lord, in eternal maybe thats His purpose behind these circumstances Im in. I have such mental roadblocks to living fully without the stability I desire. Life is uncertain for us all, requiring faithmuscles, but for those of us whove moved around alot and know they are not done moving, it is no small thing that God keeps us in perfect peace!
Thanks for your article today-any other tips are certainly welcome-bless you!

Beth said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today. You have a wonderful message!

M. Milbourn said...

Hey Girl, I had fun looking at your website tonight! I didn't realize you had one!

Angie said...

This goes straight to my heart as I'm preparing for a move and have felt uneasy at times with the prospect of it all. As always, thank you for ministering the truth!

Heavenbound said...

What a wonderful story. I have moved a lot but have moved enough to know a home is not a home without God. And I'm so happy to know no home is eternal until I reach my mansion in heaven.

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

It's so good to hear from y'all
(see? I remembered some things from my time down south. I think it was move #19!)

Angie- You're on my heart as you set out for a new adventure in a new place. But it's the same faithful God that will carry you through it all.

Marie said...

I have come to the realization that at this stage in life Todd and I will never own our own home. But wherever we do live is our home because we are together. Home is where you hang your heart and my heart is inextricably entwined with his. I dream about going "home" to my Heavenly Father one day and hope that I will be able to return home with honor. Not that I am in any rush to go you know. ;-) Wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

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Celly B said...

What a great Christian perspective on such a pervasive trend. I think you've tapped into a real desire that we all have and have showed how it is really the desire for God.

Catherine said...

Hi, Lauren!

Don't know how you found me, but thanks so much for visiting my blog. I appreciate it very much!

Your blog is very nice and you are a gifted writer! You certainly have moved a lot in your life. I never thought about all of the shows nowadays on HGTV and how everyone wants to beautify their home in order to make it theirs.

They are interesting shows to watch because you get a lot of great ideas, but to me they were just interesting to watch. To some people that I know that are completed HOOKED on them, I never thought that maybe these people are looking for the home that they lack in their heart and spirit. Thank you so much for giving me that insight. It is a great gift!

I hope that you have a lovely weekend. Please pet your beautiful dog for me! What a cutie! You have a gorgeous family and are very blessed. :)

Take care and please visit again soon!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Lauren, this is so well-written and the theme captures the hearts of so many women. I have learned from my many moves that I am just a pilgim in this world and my true home is waiting.

Miss Sandy said...

Thanks for the reminder that this world is a home away from our real home. Wonderful analogy!

Miss Sandy

Barbara said...

Wow. Another beautiful and spiritual insight again! You are a very gifted writer. I have been so busy these days I haven't stopped by as much for some of your "fuel." I now see I needed my tank filled up again. :)

I love this post from your Christian perspective. I too have moved a lot, but not quite as much as you. Thanks for the inspiration.

Amy L Brooke said...

Thanks so much for sharing. You do a great job and have wonderful insight. Thanks too for stopping by my site and leaving the encrouagement. Blessings!