I’ve been reading a fantastic book called The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson. It’s really stirred my mind to think about how to create an atmosphere of beauty, love, acceptance, joy, and refuge, even in our small, ordinary, tightly packed spaces.
When your life is filled with some discouraging prospects, when you can’t leave the house much due to your health condition, or when a lot of suffering takes place there, what can you do to counter a spirit of hopelessness in your home?
Environment makes a bigger difference than we might think.
The greatest way to give life to a home is by inviting the Lord’s presence, abiding in Him, and bearing the fruit of the Spirit with one another: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, fruitfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I don’t see any bitterness, despair, or cynicism in that list!
Candles, essential oils, the scent of cookies baking, or a vase of fresh flowers can brighten the doom and gloom. Even basic organization of clutter can make a world of difference. I know with health issues in the family, keeping up with household chores and clutter can feel like an impossible task. I struggle with it every day, and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it all work.
What could help you personally? Posting Scripture where you’ll see it regularly, listening to inspirational music, drinking a cup of hot tea, indulging in a favorite book, taking a hot bath, getting some exercise, putting on some warm, fuzzy socks and sitting back in the recliner—just to name a few ideas.
Our kids bring joy to our home that I know we’d miss if it were just Michael and me. They keep us from focusing too much on ourselves and our circumstances, and their obliviousness to the seriousness of Michael’s illness keeps them lighthearted and carefree. What a blessing the laughter and silliness of children can bring, whether they are yours or someone else’s.
Even your own belly-laughs can chase away the spirit of despair that loves to hover over your head. Sometimes we find humor in the darkest of ironies in our home, things that if we think too deeply about them, we might should cry about instead. But laughing about the funny side of things maintains our good perspective. God is good. His grace is enough. And this struggle is only for this lifetime and maybe less.
These may sound like luxuries you can’t afford, and you may think you have no time or energy for them. But in my experience, it’s the little things that can count more than you’d think. Cultivating a life-giving home can make all the difference between finding refuge and living in the shadowed pits of despair. I’ve lived in both places, and one is infinitely better than the other.
In the midst of illness for you or your family, how can you create a life-giving home? We’d enjoy hearing your ideas in the comment section below!
-by Christy Hardy