Our bathroom door sticks to the point where people get stuck in there and have to call out for help. Our stove is straight from the 1960s. Our refrigerator is in the laundry room because if more than one person walks into the kitchen when the fridge is present, nothing else fits.
And still, I love this house. I love that it is ours, that we get to worship God here, to create a space that reminds us of his goodness, and hopefully points others to him when they enter.
In a recent article, I discussed how we were made to interact with our homes as believers. It is good to create a beautiful home, a space to dwell in with intentionality. It is better, and it becomes holy, when we invite God into that process.
How I Attempt to Spark Living Joy When Designing My Home
1. I always start with prayer.
At a church leadership meeting, a speaker recalled a childhood memory of his mom walking around their house, touching the walls and praying for the space they called home. She proclaimed Romans 8:31-38 over their house, that nothing could stand between them and God, and that their home belonged to the Lord. At five years old, he remembered being struck by her authority. I remember it too, years later after hearing it second hand, so I do that as well: I actively pray for my home and the space we live in, with authority. I proclaim first and foremost, the place belongs to God.
Until I am truly grateful for the things I do have, I am constantly wanting something “better.”
2. I remember I am simply a steward.
In the same way that the men were given talents to hold for a season, “each according to their ability” in Matthew 25, I must remember that I have been given the house that I am in for a specific reason. Everything on this earth is first his, and if it is mine, it is only borrowed, and so I need to treat the things I have charge over with care and intention.
3. I submit to the authority of God as Lord of my Life.
When I pray, especially when I am praying about purchasing something new for our house, I always must approach the Lord with a willingness not to do simply what I want to do, but to listen for his will and obey it.
About a year ago, we had saved up for months for a new couch. I had looked and begun to narrow down what I liked, and then in prayer one day, I felt an unsettling. The Holy Spirit convicted me. What actually would glorify God, I sensed, would be to give all of the money we had saved away. I was upset, frustrated, and angry — I wanted a new couch! It took weeks of me pouting before I finally was able to let go, but eventually, I did. We gave it all away, starting the saving process over, and the Lord has done a good work in me though the process.
4. I always do better when I start from thankfulness.
Until I am truly grateful for the things I do have, I am constantly wanting something “better.” I forget that my husband and I do good ministry in our house, right now, exactly as it is, and even though I’m tempted to want a better couch, a bigger kitchen, curtains, and a hook to hang people’s coats, I have to remember that those things aren’t deciding factors in the ministry I do. If the Apostle Paul was able to be content in any circumstance (even prison as he writes Philippians), then I certainly need to recognize that I have a beautiful house surrounding me exactly as it is. In the same way that Jesus + nothing = salvation, me and my house + nothing = a place for Jesus to do ministry through me.
5. I don’t hang up things that point me away from him.
I have tried and failed many times to have mirrors on my walls. I’ve read every article about how they expand natural light and make a space look bigger. But I’ve struggled with body image issues off and on for a long time, and having mirrors surrounding me in the place that is supposed to be my most restful, kingdom-glorifying haven doesn’t point me to Christ — it points me to the idol of my body. So I don’t have them, and my home and my faith are better for it.
6. I do choose things that point me to him.
For some people, maybe this step involves decorative scripture. For me, it often ends up being art or paintings, sometimes even things that I made. That artistic sense is something that points me back to him as my Maker and Creator, and I enjoy having art in my house as a gentle reminder of him. When we are able to make a purchase, especially when it is larger furniture, knowing it is “Holy Spirit approved” gives us a sense of his provision as well, and serves as a reminder of His Goodness to us.
7. I delight in the greater picture.
My house and my ability to create is a gift of creativity straight from the Creator himself, and for me, it is a blank canvas to delight in beauty and what I can do with my hands. And at the same time, his grace is sufficient for me — so when my floor is covered in whatever exploded from the crockpot and my clothes are dumped on the couch, and when I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the bathroom, my house is still beautiful. My home is still a place where people can be welcomed into the Kingdom, mess and all.