As a child, one of my favorite storybooks was entitled A House is a House For Me. In it, dozens of animals and insects show off the “houses” they live in – a burrow, a cave, a tunnel. And after describing their particular dwelling, each creature proudly declares: “A house is a house for me!”
Every so often on the blog, I hope to cover some area of house. I know that as women we enjoy those little glimpses into the spaces of others, and so I will post at times about the goings-on in our house. I will also feature the houses of women who have graciously agreed to offer glimpses into where they are living. But first, I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have about the differing definitions of “house” and “home”, and why I think they are important.
We all live in “houses”. Upon marrying, we begin the nesting process and part of the fun of that change is the search for and securing of a first house. I can still remember the excited voices of my friends those early years: “We bought a house!” I can recall sitting on the front steps of my own first house,with a stack of magazines, wanting to learn how to make this brand new space welcoming and attractive. The houses we live in are of varying shapes and sizes, square footages and costs. They are the structures and forms that shelter us physically, and store us and our belongings. They are necessary to our survival, and the most valuable commodity we will likely ever own. But at some level, they are not more than that. They are things, existing to serve us. We can move from one to another with some disruption, but with our families still intact.
But a home is a somewhat different definition. A home is more than a physical dwelling that shelters and stores all the components of us. It is in essence where we belong. It is where we know place simply by virtue of being part of a family unit.
A home is where memories exist and traditions are celebrated. It is a soft place to land, in order to feel a strong sense of security and identity, child-hood on into adult-hood.
A child growing up in a homely house that was a loving home might have a lesser aesthetic sense to show for it. But a child growing up in a house that was not a home at all, will bear the scars of that for a lifetime.
A house can be created by anyone and maintained by anyone.
But a home is created very specifically by the weaving together of family, and can only be maintained by the careful work and devotion of the people living within in.
I love my house. I love making it, taking care of it and enhancing it. I love working on projects to better our space, making it more welcoming, more efficient.
But, I also know that home is what my family arrives back to every afternoon. And what I hope them to arrive back to for years to come. It is where love lives, where patience lives, where kindness lives, where grace lives.
It is a house God has given us, but a home that we are seeking to make.