Friday, April 5, 2013

Character {Heart and Home}

"May my character, not my circumstances, chiefly engage me."  
from the Valley of Vision, book of prayers

When we returned to China after 5 months in America, I was so relieved to be in our own place again.  We had stayed in 20ish places, usually with our gracious hosts, and almost always with a dozen (or a hundred) rules for the kids to follow about what they can and can't touch/ do/ play with...  Being in our own home again was like liberation for all of us.   We try to keep our place neat (and the kids are learning to be so much more mindful and helpful towards that end- so nice!)  but it is a busy, lived-in home.  

I often need this application of the prayer above:  "May the character of my heart, more than the character of my home, chiefly concern and engage me."  How many times do I get crispy-ugly-yucko with our kids while I'm aiming to get our home to some allusive state of near-perfection?  Lord, help me to lay it down.  

And Lord help me believe the truth that happiness does not come from having a clean home, but only from You.  May I not lay my own heart under the Enchanter's lie that I cannot be happy or have peace unless we are as tidy as can be.  Even when guests are coming.  Yes, even then.  

We really can live in a home that looks lived in.  We can live amidst a little mess.  It doesn't need to stress me out or bring me to the point of breaking down.   I can be broken instead, broken open with joy by serving people, meeting with my kids and bending low to look and love them in the eyes, and even to meet with guests in the midst of just a little organically growing, real, messy homelife.  

Now there is the true point to be made, that when I get dressed for the day, I accomplish worlds more in just a morning than I could make a pajamaed version of me get done in 24 hours.  Matt has seen it to, how dressing for business (which is much easier here than in America) hones his attention and somehow increases his efficientcy.  And I cannot afford to loose that in my home either.  But these prayers and this subtle ever-growing change in me means two things

First, I’ve got to adjust my standards for what I can feel effective in.  If I must have an absolutely spotless home in order to feel like I can get a good thing done in the day, well then, I’ll be spending vain hours cleaning and tidying and retidying my home.  And I'll be doing the exact same thing the next day too (we've got 4 kiddos on the loose here.)  Or if I can offer up a bit of lived in stuff strewn about my house to the Lord and find his blessing for it, his peace... even him in the midst of it... then I can move on to accomplish more, right there in our scatteryness. 

And I’ve also got to set my mind to doing the needed, most strategic amount of house work regularly so that I am helped to maximize my efforts and increase efficientcy every day for his glory.  

What joy it is to run a home, to serve and bless a family, to welcome guests!  Such joy in prayer and having a God who hears and loves me, his very own daughter, who he completely accepts while she is so far from a perfect housekeeper!   

Yes, Lord, may the character of my heart, not my home, chiefly engage me!   And too, may my home be a refuge of peace and rest and life and joy in this dirty, broken world...  all in You, for You,  for Your Glory, my King!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Jill. Thanks so much for posting this! It was a message I needed to hear about something I've definitely been struggling with lately!