Today, my house felt all wrong.
Usually, I love living in a smaller house. I love the how cozy it feels, and the fact that I can hear my girls from anywhere in the house. I love the challenge of rearranging our spaces just so in order to accommodate everyone's needs. I love the fact that a smaller space forces me to keep the clutter from getting out of control. But today, it just felt all wrong.
There was a play tent that I'd been eyeing for the girls for a while. They have other play tents, but if you knew how much they play with play tents...you'd understand why I was considering buying another one. I'd planned out my purchase, scoped out pictures online, even seen pictures of a similar tent in a fellow blogger's house.
Then, I brought the tent home, set it up, and it was huge. I mean, it wasn't actually huge, but the rooms in our upstairs are small. I tried to rearrange their bedroom so I could leave it set up in there, but there was no way it was going to fit. Then, I ended up rearranging the play corner in the living room to make it fit. I felt so dumb. And I also felt so frustrated.
It was dumb, really. We are blessed with an absolutely beautiful house, with a very affordable rent, and plenty of room for our little family (and even room for additional members, should we be so blessed). But in that moment, I felt like a failure. I felt like I had too many things, like I'd failed to trim down our belongings enough, like my house just wasn't good enough. And that made me feel like I wasn't good enough, either.
Later in the evening, Andrew came home from work, saw how I'd rearranged things, and told me it looked nice. It looked nice. While I fixated on not having a perfect home, I'd missed one important detail - it wasn't just my home. It's their home, too. And the three people I share this home with - they love their home. They think it is just perfect. They don't care if all the fabrics in the living room don't match, if the furniture in the kitchen is mismatched, if the bookshelves look a bit disheveled. To them, it is just home.
Ultimately, this is the purpose of a domestic monastery. By cultivating a home, we offer our families a taste of heaven. Heaven is not heaven because we will have all the perfect material things when we get there. In fact, we won't have any of our material things. The purpose of our material things is to create a beautiful, peaceful environment. Our material goods must serve a purpose or they are of no use. She who dies with the most toys doesn't win. She who dies with the most love - love for God, overflowing into love for others - is the one who wins. More than being a place of interior decorating bliss and perfect organization, our homes need to be a place of peace. Our homes need to be the kind of place where our family can come to know what love is. Ultimately, our homes are little schools of love.
If we remove that love from the equation, there aren't enough couch cushions, oriental rugs, or bath mats in the world to take its place. Love is what matters. Encountering the love of Christ in our homes changes everything.