I used to dream of my future home. My best friend and I would cut pictures of rooms out of old magazines and glue them to cardboard pieces while we dreamed of our future. From the kitchen to the baby room and everything in between, I dreamed. I dreamed of pillow filled couches and beds with fluffy comforters and a kitchen with black and white tiled floors.
Eventually, I grew up and moved out of my parent’s home. I lived the college life of mismatched, hand-me-down furniture (before it was cool!) and chose to eat and go to the movies over home décor items, yet still dreaming! My roommates and I hosted a weekly small group Bible study and many friends despite our low budget decorating. It wasn’t a big deal because we were college students and nobody had beautifully decorated apartments.
Fast forward a few years, to getting married, having kids, and home buying. After a grueling experience trying to buy a house and then it not working out, we found a house that was in a wonderful neighborhood, near sweet friends and a great school. Not to mention our local library was a block away. However, as I walked through the house for the first time seeing the bland white walls that were crying out, “Paint Me!” and almost tripping over the blue carpet in the family room that was rolling, this feeling of discontentment washed over me. Our realtor reminded me constantly the house had great bones and great potential. All I saw was the scuff markets, rolled carpet, and ugly cabinets. I knew there was no way we were going to be able make all the changes we wanted right away.
We bought the house anyway and moved all of our furniture in and figured where we were going to put everything. It took a lot of rearranging until it worked, yet my heart was still discontent. Our whole front room was pretty much empty. We now had two living rooms and only one set of living room furniture. We knew we wanted to invite people into our home. We wanted God to use this house for His Glory, but I wondered how. Who would want to come into my home and just sit on our floor? Is that really comfortable and welcoming? These questions wandered through my head a lot during those first few years in our home. My husband and I knew we wanted to make some changes to the house, but we didn’t want to go into debt to do it. This meant live our lives, be content, and make changes as our budget allowed.
I’m pretty sure the first thing we did was paint. Those walls were so sad and so thirsty that we needed to splash some color on them. We painted those walls colors like Midnight Fog and Sand Between My Toes. We didn’t even care that the carpet was rust orange. We just painted. It helped. A lot. There were a lot of late night painting parties during that first year while our toddler slept, and it was worth it to give the house a little bit of character while we saved for the bigger fixes.
We still invited people in and we still laugh that we had Bible Study on our living room floor. I even hosted a dessert for some ladies in our Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) group at my house. I gathered as many chairs as I could and sat them around the empty floor and ladies gathered in my practically empty front room, eating delicious desserts and chatting with friends. I learned something that evening. My house didn’t have to look like it walked off the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but that my heart needed to be in the right spot and people would feel welcome. People don’t need to have a beautifully decorated room to sit in to fill loved. It’s nice, but it’s not necessary. What is necessary is a warm, willing heart that is ready to be used by God. While it’s fun to decorate and create beautiful living spaces, God will use whatever space you have as long as you are willing.
I love Pinterest and Instagram. I can scroll through beautiful posts of beautiful homes and save ideas for later. I can gather inspiration for my own home and I can admire someone’s hard labor of love as a piece of art. Unfortunately, there is a trap that we often fall into by comparing our own homes to those seemingly perfect pictures we see in our feed. We forget to look for the story behind the pictures. The work it took to get that corner looking just the right way. The money saved to buy the picture on the wall or the hours spent creating a work of art to save money. Don’t let your not-so-picture perfect home keep you from opening your doors and pouring love onto the people who walk in. Don’t fall into the comparison trap which leads to jealousy and discontentment. Find ways to be content in the space you are living in. Visit thrift stores, paint a wall, have a yard sale to get rid of clutter and make some money for that chair you’ve been eying. Be to free to move the furniture around.
The reality is that most of us can’t hire Chip and Jo to come do a miraculous flip to our homes and that’s okay. Create a home that you love and want to invite others into. Don’t be afraid to invite people into what seems like an empty room filled with random chairs from the kitchen table. Invite them into a home filled with love and kindness and I promise that they won’t care about the lack of a couch.