By Danielle Jimmie
When we think about the word “home” the next few words that pop into our brains are usually house & family. The places you always come back to, the places you find rest. For me, I think about the house I grew up in, the beautiful and spacious backyard, the laughter and joy that resided there, and the 20 years of life lived there. Two years ago, my parents sold the house I grew up in, and even though I hadn’t lived there for 6 years, it was difficult to say goodbye to my beloved home. Coincidently, the same month my childhood home sold, Greg and I got married. Needless to say, this transition left me redefining what home looked like and how to begin building a new home with my new husband.
Over the last two years, we’ve been building a home together in little 330-sqft studio apartment. While its size presented a fair share of organizational challenges and magnified those newlywed fights everyone seems to have (honestly, why Greg has as many shoes as he does and can’t seem to find a good place to store them all is beyond me) our tiny little space has become our home, and I love it. It’s where we’ve begun to build our life together. It has been the place we’ve retreated to, fumbled through the newlywed phase together, laughed, cried, fought & forgiven, it has been the place we’ve grown our marriage. This little space is filled with joy & peace.
This week, we’ve started to pack up all our belongings, and are getting ready to leave our little home. And as excited I am to be moving into a bigger space (seriously – praise the lord), I’m really sad to be leaving the only home we’ve known together. Among the fear of change and the organizational disaster that is moving, I have found that I have a steady peace. A constant, surefooted understanding that though my address will change, my home will not.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is a beautiful description of the home we were created for, The Garden of Eden. Eden is described in Genesis chapter 2 to be full of beauty, wonder, and majesty with flowing rivers, exotic flowers, beautiful trees that produce delicious fruit and animals living at peace with man & woman. As we can see, there are no houses described in the garden. Yet in this perfect home, we find humanity living in peace and joy. When we take a closer look, we see the garden is full of relationships: the birds & sky, the fish & the sea, the man & the woman, humanity & God. The home we were created to live in is built to produce relationship and connection, is free from evil and centered on intimate and perfect friendship with God.
Home is beyond four walls; home is even beyond the people we share our house with. We can build a home wherever we go because of the people we share our hearts and lives with. Building a home is the cultivation of relationship; sinking the roots of our heart deep in the fertile soil of another and settling in, making space to be known and to be loved. Building a home looks like building relationship and genuine connection. My home isn’t just with my husband, and it’s not just with my family. The home I’ve been building is with the people that know me, see me and love me, my church community that guides, encourages and stretches me; and most of all, the God who loves and saves me. Home can be built in the cups of coffee poured between friends, meals shared, shoulders cried on, dreams believed in, brokenness prayed for. People are the walls of our home.
Unfortunately though, no one can escape the wickedness and evil that is in our world. And I don’t just mean the terrible tragedies we see on the news, I mean the evil and wickedness of our own hearts. I have wickedness in my heart. I’m not always forgiving, or gracious or kind – I can be selfish and greedy and insecure, too.
As beautiful as relationship & community are, we cannot build lasting homes without a sure foundation. I’m not the foundation I want to build my home upon, and neither is Greg – I love him, but he is not perfect. The foundation of our homes must always be our intimacy with God. Just as the foundation of our physical homes supports and holds up the walls, the intimacy we have with God supports the relationships & connections we build our homes upon.
We build this foundation of intimacy with God over time, by getting to know him and love him similarly to how we would with any other friend. We are honest with him, we share our secrets with him, we seek his advice, we listen to what he has to say. But thankfully, he is the most trustworthy friend and the wisest counselor. We can obey him without fear, for we can know he is good and a solid foundation for our home.
Maybe my description of a home isn’t the home you knew. The majority of my memories of my homes are filled with sunshine & roses. Yes there are some painful memories, an angsty teen phase and the grating reality of marriage, but mostly beautiful, joyful, and comforting memories that leave me longing for more. I understand my definition of “home” is idyllic and maybe doesn’t translate to yours. Maybe your home wasn’t a place of peace, maybe your home wasn’t the place you longed to return to – perhaps it was the place you longed to leave. But regardless of our physical home situations, we were created to find the peace, joy & the comfort of home within our friendship with God and connection with community. And if that’s literally what God created us for, I’m confident you can build it.