The subject of new homes has been rolling around in my mind lately. Some family of mine just adopted a group of siblings after close to 30 years of barrenness. A close friend of mine just moved into his very first place on his own. Several other friends are about to get a new home, some on their own, some for their family, some are exchanging roommates, one is getting married. Even I’m hoping to adjust my current situation when the time presents itself.
As I’m mulling over all these events and hopes, both aspiring and fulfilled, it occurred to me that there are things I wish I had thought about before setting up my own first place. There are things I would have done differently, and I’d like to share them in case you or someone you know is preparing to set up a new home, whether solo or with others.
Here’s my list of new home TO-DOs:
1. Have a Purpose.
Everything needs a purpose. Proverbs says that “without vision, the people perish,” meaning that when there’s no purpose, there’s no purpose, no goal, there’s no life. There’s no energy or hope, no vibrancy. Give your home a purpose. You could use “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” or “my house shall be called a house of prayer.” It could be hosting the presence of the Holy Spirit, or being a place of hospitality, like that of the good Samaritan. Whatever is in your heart to do to maintain peace and life in your home, to recharge you for the world outside of it, set that as the purpose of your home and set up a reminder of it so that you uphold it.
2. Set Standards
This is especially true if you are inviting tenants, sharing equally through marriage or roommates, or raising children, but shouldn’t be disregarded by the solo flyer. Even on your own, standards create an atmosphere and can be the difference between a healthy environment and a negative one. Your standards should be consistent with your overall purpose, but more specific. These can and should encompass everything from physical cleanliness to human interaction. What kind of conversations will you allow in your home? What kind of television programming? How much junk food? What level of respect is required of those who cross your threshold? How well will you steward the material blessings God had entrusted to you? How much attention do those materials get in relation to Christ Himself? These are questions you should consider and answer, possibly even write down and tuck away for occasional reference if you feel harmony ebbing.
3. Let Your Home Reflect Your Heart
While this point is inevitably tied into the previous two, it is good to remember. I am the type of person who will often do what I perceive as a “should” even if it isn’t something natural to me. I easily feel pressure to impress, to gain approval. I hate to disappoint. But my home should be a place of peace for my heart, not one of striving. If I can’t rest in my own home, I never will anywhere else. One thing I believe I failed to do was to create an environment of rest for myself. Hard to accomplish with such a small space, but I kept thinking of my home as somewhere else, thinking of peace as something I had to “get to.” When I can go on that vacation, get that car, fill my time with these activities and these friends, etc. One of my goals to repurpose my home as a place for rest instead of a holding cell for nervous energy or a pit stop between “important” activities. This place is an end in itself, not a means to another end.
When my home lacked purpose, I invited (by default if nothing else) things into it that didn’t belong. Ideas, feelings, habits, even people. These things eventually became a burden to me and I began to desire more and more to be away from my home. This can cause any number of problems, not the least of which is financial. But the effect snowballs when you add other people into the mix. Suddenly there’s someone to fight with, someone to blame, someone to avoid, or perhaps even someone to take advantage of.
Stop these before they have a chance to happen.
Choose a purpose, set standards to maintain and fulfill that purpose, and let those all be a reflection of what’s in your heart.
If your heart is to serve, let your home function in a service capacity, such as cooking for church functions or hosting events. If your heart is to write, designate a time and place to write. If it’s to worship, create an atmosphere of adoration to God. If your heart thrives especially in community, host gatherings. If you find peace in nature, try to cultivate a garden or find a home near a naturescape.
They say home is where the heart is, so let make your heart welcome.
“Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”