Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Building a House

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

It's May and the days are growing longer. After dinner, we all go upstairs and I pull down the black out blinds in the bedrooms where we will soon put the children to sleep. Because I've been up since 5:30 a.m. and even though the sun is not ready to sleep yet, I am pretty sure that I am. Noelle cries in her little tub because she can't reach her toy. Yes, I'm pretty sure that she is tired, too. Natasha is bawling on the bed while we rinse Noelle's soapy, foaming head.

Pull down the blinds. Shut the whole thing down.

The children close their eyes and are very quiet for a long time. As long as it is dark, they are quiet and still in their beds. The house becomes like a quiet library again and I can hear the hum of the refrigerator. Finally, rest.

I stay up way too late doing stupid things like looking online at images of kitchens that I would one day like to have. Because I want to live in a house. Not in an apartment anymore. I pour my heart out like water onto hot summer cement. The water evaporates in that barren land and I am left dry and wanting - empty.

My heart is now on the floor.

 The next morning, the day still dark and unwrapped, the baby opens her mouth and cries loud for food. And comfort. And to get out of the wet bottom. And to see the light of day. The sun yawns - awakens - and so it begins!

I feel hungover. I went to bed too late and the only thing I gorged on was Pinterest and Redfin. And my heart is still on the floor where I left it. I get up, feed the baby, and there is nothing inside my heart to give. Then my oldest wakes up from all the commotion, bursts into the room crying. I turn into a frizzle - I am fried and the day has only just begun. My heart is already evaporated. I poured it onto the hot cement last night.

And then this verse comes to mind, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears her down." The Lord had spoon-fed that one to me awhile back, and I remember it afresh, and it nourishes me. My heart revives with this morning dew, fresh grace from Him.

What does it matter what house I have or don't have? What the Jones have or don't have? What does it matter if I have a big house with a big yard but I have torn down my children's spiritual heritage with my own hands?

What does it matter whether or not they have a backyard to run on, whether I have more than this one foot of counter space to cook on, whether I have a coat closet - what does it matter whether I have all these things for my family yet I don't have a heart that resembles the Lord Jesus'?

My Lord does not care one bit what my house looks like when I die; it will all burn up in the end anyway. And my daughters will not care whether their house was featured on a blog or in a magazine. 

All they will care about was whether I cared about them, loved them, spoke kindly. Whether I hugged them when they needed a hug, prayed for them earnestly, spoke truth and wisdom into their souls. Whether I was present, 100% whole-heartedly there, doing what no other person in the world was created to do: love them, guide them, grow them, in a way only a mother can. A child can live in a hundred houses, from destitute to opulent. But they will only have one mother whose influence will mark their lives forever.

And what of God's opinion? All the Lord will care about is whether I built up my house with love, patience, joy. With truth, kindness, gratitude. Did I tear it down with anger, frustration? Did I tear it down with discontented grumbling? Did I yell at everyone because I thought I was entitled to so much more than what I was given?

Oh, Lord, You see me. You see my wicked, darkened heart. I have often poured my heart out wastefully onto the ground, liberally indulging in discontent and covetousness. But You redeem me with the kindness and purity of Christ. You fill my heart anew with Living Water, with purpose, with focus. Make me the wise woman who builds her house - the spiritual legacy she will leave her children, the environment of love and service that envelops her household - and save me from becoming what I would naturally become, the foolish woman who would tear down her household with her discontent, selfishness, irritation.

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