Home is Where My Idol Is

When we started on this journey of building our new house, I was crazy excited about designing and decorating it. Waking or sleeping, I was thinking about where to place windows and doors, how to maintain symmetry in the exterior, what kind of fireplace I would have, where to put the stairs, how big to make the closets, etc., etc., etc.

For about 4-6 months before we applied for our building permit, I would grab every spare minute I could for designing. With pencil and paper or on the laptop’s home design software, I spent hours trying out my ideas: arranging and rearranging fixtures and walls, appliances and cabinets, “walking” through the 3D version of the house to test the flow and function of the space. I was devoting so much time and attention to it, Ryan started to feel jealous.

But paint colours were by far my greatest interest in the whole process, fanatically so. On lazy afternoons, I would relax on the couch, twirling a large paint chip wheel. It must have had at least a thousand colours to choose from. I would sit there, gazing with longing and admiration at those beautiful little chips, dreaming about how gorgeous my walls would be. Perhaps I would go bold, with creamy yellow walls, or robin egg blue, deep reds or dark greens. Or maybe I would go neutral, with a classic white or stylish gray. Or a combination of both. Whichever direction I went, I was certain I was going to impress others and myself with my perfect choice. My house would be a bold statement of my personality and my artistic style and taste.

Occasionally, I would involve other people, showing off my amazing selections. But their reaction was not what I expected it to be. Rather than recognizing my superb choice, they started to offer constructive criticism and counter suggestions: “That paint colour is too pink”; “You should have white trim”; “Paint your walls gray”. Then, to make matters worse, Ryan was far more interested in their advice then in my dreamy ideas.

I started to fume and protest. Hold on. Wait a second. Is everybody forgetting something, something extremely important? This is MY house. This is an extension of ME. This is MY golden opportunity for self-expression, to explore MY wonderful interior decorating intuitions. Who cares if others don’t like my choice of pinkish-brown walls? So what if they think the colour doesn’t match the gray tile we bought? This is MY home. Not theirs. I’M going to live in it. It should suit ME. All that matters is MY opinion and MY happiness. 

In the midst of my frustration and self-pity, God sent a wonderful little book. I received Glimpses of Grace, by Gloria Furman, as a Christmas gift. Every chapter has been convicting, rooting out and exposing the sin in my heart. But her insight and wisdom started to hit deeper when she began talking about hospitality and having a picture-perfect home. She writes:

Serving with the strength God supplies according to his riches in Christ solves the problem we have with self-serving hospitality. When someone comes into our home, we can focus on presenting Jesus instead of on our presentation of ourselves. (p. 105)

When the facade I construct for my heart overflows into my home, I turn homemaking into a grandiose display of my personal style. I forget that homemaking is not primarily about my personality; it is primarily to adorn the gospel because the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people (Titus 2:11). (p. 155)

Not making an idol out of our homes is tricky…

I’ve also had struggles with the idol of self expression, seeing my home primarily as an extension of myself. If something was out of place or not just so, then I felt it reflected poorly on my personhood or character. Again I was serving my own image–not God’s. (p. 163)

Guilty, guilty, and…yep, definitely guilty. Without realizing it, I had made an idol of my home. I had justified this idol in so many different ways, but God, through this book I was reading, had exposed this idol for what it really was: a means by which to glorify myself, and not Him. Like Nebuchadnezzar, I had erected a huge image for the worship of myself, for the purpose of having others praise me, and not God.

Lord, help me to cast down the idols in my heart, and use my home to bring glory to You alone.

For the praise of His glorious grace, which saved us in the midst of our sin and misery and self-worship,

Kristin

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