It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. ~ Proverbs 25: 24
Sitting in a talk earlier this week, I heard the speaker say, “As Christian wives, it is our role to set the emotional barometer of the home.” she went on to say that if the woman is stressed, stressful feelings envelope the husband and the children. It is that age old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” you can apply that saying to however you are feeling and it works. If mama is scared, the children will live in fear. If mama is lonely, the children feel alienated.
I have known this concept to be true since I first started embracing my role as homemaker. It is one of the very first things that made me want to change. So, today, I want to spend a few minutes getting back to the basics. In order to address how to change, you must first be able to recognize why you need to change.
Today, instead of tackling a cleaning project, I want you to spend a few minutes in reflection. You will need paper, a pencil, and your Bible.
First Step: I want you to consider your emotional status. List three words that characterize you. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to write the words down. Don’t judge yourself for negative words. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Five years ago, I would have written down lonely, failure, and broken. My lack of organization and household management skills had made me feel like a complete and utter failure. Embarrassed by the house, I certainly wasn’t inviting anyone over; feelings of failure took my low self-esteem to catastrophic levels. I didn’t want to go out with anyone else because I felt sure that they would know how unworthy and entirely despicable I was.
Second Step: I want you to look at any negative words that you listed for yourself. If you listed positive words than you may not need this step, but if you listed negative words, we want to address that now. Think about what you would want them to be and then change them on your paper.
For me, I would have replaced lonely with loved. I wanted to stop alienating myself from my husband and loved ones; I wanted accepted despite my issues. Next I would have changed failure to successful. I didn’t want to feel like I was worthless; I wanted to embrace worthiness. Last, I wanted to replace broken with complete.
Third Step: Now think about your home. Do any of the words you used to describe yourself fit your home? Do the words you used to describe yourself lead to the description of your home? For example, if your word for you was lonely, would you describe your house as unwelcoming? List all the words that characterize your home. Once you have that list, I want you to tie all those words together in one characterizing word or phrase.
My list would have included messy, unpacked, cluttered, confused, undone, dirty, unwelcoming, tense, untidy, and so on. tying all of those negative things together, I would have characterized the house as broken. Systems were not in place to organize incoming mail, clothing, etc. daily home maintenance was not being done no a regular basis as I didn’t have a schedule. I had not even unpacked certain rooms since we had moved in two years earlier; since one of those rooms was the dining room, we did not even have a place to eat. Nothing was the way it should have been, so the system, the house, the purpose of our home was broken.
Fourth Step: Now that you have your list of what your home is currently like, make a list of what you want it to be. List everything from behavioral to conditional to emotional characteristics. If you need some help coming up with ideas, consult your Bible. The Proverbs 31 woman is a great role model for how our homes should look, but I also looked to the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) as a good reference for what I wanted my home to look like. Finally appraise the list and decide how you want to tie all those words together in one characterizing word or phrase.
I noticed that for me most of the words on this list were not about the condition of the house. Sure, I wrote words like clean, organized, everything put away, and unpacked, but I also had words for how I wanted the house to feel—welcoming, balanced, peaceful, safe, non-judgmental. I recognized that I did not want a perfectly clean house but rather I wanted a more balanced, open life. I wanted a home that welcomed and offered peace to both its residents and guests alike. I chose the word harmony to characterize my home. Years later, I have achieved that word, but more on that later.
For today, I don’t want you to do anything else. I simply want you to reflect on the activity and keep thinking about the relationship between your home and your emotional state of mind. We are getting back to the basics, and we will move through this process one step at a time for the next several weeks.
One other thing. If you are looking for some words on loving one another, check out my post Watching and Waiting over at The Bottom Line.