So as I’ve mentioned before in this Lenten series, my family is in the process of moving from one house to another.
If any of you have moved recently, you may have gone through the practice of staging your house. Since when I do something, I do it all the way, I have been staging away for weeks.
Let me just tell you up front that I live in a house with two tweens, two dogs, and two funky grownups. We all have our special things that we like and apparently none of these things fit into the category of appropriate house staging.
Normally this is totally fine. We are a pretty eccentric family with an eclectic house and we just roll with whatever.
My husband’s large icon collection. Cool. My daughter’s duct tape decor. Cool. My son’s Lego/paper airplane/origami/stuffed animal collections. Ok. His ball of fur leftover from the clippings of our beloved dog that has now passed on. A little weird, but if you keep it under the bed, okay.
As long as our house was our own, pretty much anything was acceptable as personal decor.
But then the clock started ticking on the day we would take pictures of our house and put it on the market. They day we would let strangers come in to see our home. Strangers we wanted to like our home enough enough to pay good money for it.
And then we started having awkward conversations with each other about how most American Southerners don’t consider icons of bleeding people cheerful decor. Even if the guy bleeding is our Lord and Savior on the cross.
I was pretty good at dishing out the “You’ve got to box up your icon collection/duct tape collection/furball collection” news flashes. However, I wasn’t prepared to eat what I was serving.
The day my husband informed me most 40 something women don’t display rock collections in their bedrooms or extensive shell collections in their bath, I was really taken aback. How could anyone not love a rock collection? I mean these were some pretty cool rocks!
So bit by bit we started boxing up the stuff that expresses our identities.
We started putting little bits of ourselves away so people would like us better.
And it was really painful. The kids both stopped talking to me for a day. I stopped talking to me for a day. I began to question my identity as a capable wife and homemaker.
If I had been so wrong about rocks and shells and acorns and leaves being beautiful home accents, what else was wrong with me that I didn’t know about?
The painful removing of quirks and eccentricities continued until one day my son said enough. After putting up his 50 paper airplanes, half of his lego sets, and all animal sheddings, he finally drew the line at our icon of St Francis that hangs right by our front door.
When I took down St Francis to put him in a box, my son firmly grasped the large icon, looked me in the eye and said, “NO. This is who we are. It stays.”
So he hung the icon back and there it will remain until it hangs in our new house.
And I am so glad. Because the fact that I love rocks is one thing. But the fact that I love and follow Jesus is another. And dear St Francis reminds me that my identity doesn’t lie in money or things or even nature, but in loving Jesus so much it affects everything I do.
And in the end it doesn’t matter if the people who come in to see our house like or approve of me. It doesn’t even matter if my friends and family like or approve of me.
All that matters is that God loves and approves of me, just as I am. No matter what. Because I am God’s beloved child. And my true home is in God’s loving arms.
Holding onto that identity is enough to see me through any circumstance, even this crazy move.
So this Lent, if you have to let go of something you love or feel a part of yourself shedding off, take heart. The core of your identity remains and will always be firm.
You are God’s beloved child. Your home is with Christ. Nothing can change that.
And a home that beautiful needs no decoration.