"...And when I'm married, I want to create a place that is a home for my husband's heart, and a place of joy and rest for our children." I penned those words fifteen years ago, before there was a husband or any children. As an idealistic teenager, I had visions of baking fresh homemade cookies, being dressed in a cute frock with a hint of lipstick, happy children around my heels as we went about our home, and then welcoming home their daddy at the end of the day as we were wreathed in smiles and happy laughter from the children. I had many dreams for my life including travel, adventure, and education and I loved being single, but among the top three dreams was being a wife and mother. I look back to my idealistic words and smile. I have a wonderful godly husband. I bake homemade cookies. I like to wear a cute frock and lipstick, even at home. I have four precious children. But the reality is, that hasn't come as naturally as I expected. I've joked that I thought I was rather godly when I was single, then realized I needed Jesus in new ways when I got married, and then some days feel like a heathen now that I have children! The acts of being a life-giver and of being a student of my husband and children are of the most refining process I've ever been through in my life. Harold B. Lee said, "Happiness comes from unselfish service. And happy homes are only those where there is a daily striving to make sacrifices for each other's happiness." It's true. Marriage and parenting require more unselfishness of me than I ever expected. They are the tools Jesus uses on a daily basis to show me His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy, His beauty, His redemption. I am the mother, the one teaching my children about a Savior, but the reality is, we're all at the cross together. I'm leading them there because I need Him so much myself. But I don't just need His patience; I need Him. I don't just want His help; I need Him. I don't just want to tell my kids about who He is. I want them to experience His presence because their mama is indwelt by the Living God, and they see what He is like, even through a vessel that is broken.
Those idealist words? I still have them as my motto. Because really, they aren't so idealistic after all. They were the vision of a teenager, not realizing how difficult it would be to live it out (and how by the time daddy gets home, it's often the roughest time of the day with kids) but realizing the incredible honor of making a home for eternal souls to live and learn of Jesus. In a world of brokenness, I want our home to be a safe place for our family. Where we are free to talk, free to share silly secrets and laugh, where my husband knows he is respected and honored, where the kids know they are loved and treasured. Where it's safe to be who God created them to be; the pressure is off to perform because they are loved. Where we believe the best about each other and see the gold that is there, even when we live with the weaknesses and see the mistakes daily.
I want a home that is beautiful because beauty speaks to the soul and brings a rest and a comfort from the harshness of the world around us. Beauty invites; beauty is healing. And I'm not talking about a perfect home where performance and appearance are the big deal–y'all, I've got four kids, and perfect isn't happening! And I don't want it to. But I want a beauty that shows even my kids that they are worth it to me. I don't want a beautiful home only for the honored guests on occasion; I want a home that is lovely because my family is the most honored of all, and they are worth the energy and time of me creating a place for them like that. Through that beauty, I want them to see that home is beautiful, that it is safe, that it is fun to be in and brings joy, it's a place of no fear, that it's a place of order. And why? Because it points back to God. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, "The eternal God is thy refuge." And "refuge" in that context means, "abiding place," which speaks to the thought that God is our home. (Thoughts inspired by Spurgeon.) Isn't that just beautiful? The desires we've been given to create a home for our family are given by God Himself to point back to His goodness, His loving heart for His children. So whether our giftings individually lie in tasty food preparation for our families, or we love to be creative in home d√©cor, or we have the ability to encourage verbally, or we can throw the best parties for our kids, or however it is that makes you come alive, know that we are living Jesus to our families through that very thing. We are showing them that He is trustworthy, that He is a place of safety, that He is loving and kind, that He is not a God of chaos but of order. What an amazing privilege and honor to represent Him to impressionable souls. And now, I'm heading back to the foot of the cross, because I desperately need Him to do this sacred task well.
By Clarita Barkman Yoder Originally published in Be Still Magazine, issue 3.