When all the children in a home are little, it’s easy to see the purpose of home. It’s a place with parents to guide every wee step; it’s where cribs and beds and bedtimes stories are; it’s where every meal is taken, often with someone who loves holding the spoon and gently guiding it to mouth. There is an obvious need for a dedicated place for all of that — a haven for a small child, sheltering strong against a big world.
But what about when the children are bigger, when they aren’t even children anymore? What is the place and the purpose of home? I think that home might be just as important then. As children grow and go out into the world, as they make their marks — and their mistakes — it is so important that some place remain steady, stable and solid.
As children grow into the people God intends them to be, they test themselves against the world. They might flirt with elements heretofore unknown. Does this work? How about that? Can I be this person? Or am I really that one? To be sure, there will be some painful learning experiences in this experiment. But when all is said and done, they can come home and home is where they truly are who they are.
I think that women who are called to be homemakers are called to create a place of haven and consolation for our families that is the closest place to heaven that they will visit while still here on earth. Even once we’ve finished the real labor of co-creating people with God, holding them cradled within us, and even when they no longer need us for their every physical and emotional moment, we are called to be creators, crafting home.
We are called to provide for those who come and go a place of gratitude. A place where the habit is a song of thanks and children are ever aware of God’s goodness, even in grief, even in failure, even in sin. Homemakers (whether devoted fulltime to the task or not), make havens, places of consolation, of new beginnings, of forgiveness.
When a child, however large or small, or a husband, crosses the threshold of home, is he met by words of praise? Not made up, hokey, “You are special, I am special” nonsense, but genuine words of appreciation and honor? Or is he met by a constant barrage of criticism? In the words of the classic poem, “If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.” What if a teenager lives with criticism? A grown man? Is the house punctuated by praise or poisoned by the perpetual drip of nagging discontent?
As children grow and home changes shape, the call to be intentional about the haven within those four walls is all the more urgent. Home is a safe place to land. It’s a reference point as they venture into the world. It’s the hope and the haven God provides for us here on earth, to give us just the faintest glimpse of heaven. And it’s up to us, by the grace of God, to make it so for our families.