this is where we dwell

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

You know it's been a good birthday when this is the result:

;) I have been massively spoilt, and I am very grateful for loving friends and family. I have read the Fault in Our Stars already; I enjoyed it, and I cried solidly for the last two or three chapters until the end (not beautiful movie-like tears, either, but the kind of tears that make you look all red and snort like a pig).

I also got an awesome book from my friend Claire, who knows me very well, called 365 Journal Writing Ideas. She added a note in my card 'I thought the book may give you some inspiration for your blog.'

I officially have no excuse for writers block!

This is a good thing. Writers block is really annoying, because I write for mental health more than anything. If I could describe my brain, it would be like a hideously messy office with filing cabinets spilling out papers everywhere. I can't keep my mind on one thing at a time. Writing is my way of sort of tidying things up so I can think straight. Does that make sense? I guess I'm a thinker, but that's not always a good thing. Not a lot of my thoughts are actually deep and meaningful (a lot of them involve food). I write to get some of it out of the way.

The scary thing is, people describe my daughter as a 'thinker', and she's just shy of ten months old. I think it's the way she sits back and observes things with this kind of serious look on her face. The amount of times I've heard 'she's a thinker, that girl' is mounting up quite nicely.

I hope she finds an outlet for it.

Anyway, I decided to use Claire's present straight away by trying to find a prompt that I could write a blog about. I found this:

I started to think along the lines of the most exciting and memorable moments so far. The moments that give you butterflies. Like standing outside the church before our wedding, or sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off, or sitting by a rock pool gazing over at the most stunningly beautiful sunset, surrounded by friends. Those sort of moments.

Those are good. And beautiful.

But I've also been thinking a lot about our home.

A few weeks ago, our landlord put our house up for sale. It was an uncertain time, but luckily it lasted for an astonishingly short three days before it sold, to another landlord, who wants us to stay. In those three days, I would describe how I felt as - rightly or wrongly - ludicrously stressed. I like to think I'm immune to this sort of thing as my parents have always rented and we've been in this situation before, but the truth is, I just let it completely take over me. My problem engulfed everything else. In that short space of time I cried, I whined, I sulked, I wallowed, I got angry. The thought that we might have to leave brought up a whole load of issues I have that are to do with attainment and insecurity and entitlement and comparison and competitiveness ... I won't go into the whole ugly thing, but you get the idea. A lot of my prayers were along the lines of 'HOW COME EVERYONE ELSE OWNS THEIR HOUSE?!'

Not my proudest moment. I couldn't blog about it either, even after I'd realised how silly I was being, because everything I wrote sounded kind of whiny and self-pitying.

Anyway, I've been humbled quite nicely over the past few weeks, and the full weight of how selfish I can be weighed on me quite heavily. Sometimes when I need to be corrected - even though I know I am forgiven - it really hurts. Stripping away of pride really hurts. And I regret it. I regret my whiny, selfish prayers, especially when there are people around me going through a whole world of pain and are having crippling money problems, health stuff, etc - you know, real problems.

Not that it's wrong for me to have (or care about) smaller problems. Just that it's wrong for me to make them bigger in my head.

So over the past few weeks I've been praying about and reflecting on what it is that makes home home. I started to take photographs of it, and I am drawn to things that are like chaos. Toys on the floor. Books piled up by the bed. Shoes jumbled by the door. Necklaces tangled up. Piles of paperwork waiting to be sorted. Food on the floor under the high chair. The buggy left haphazard in the hallway (sometimes with a baby sleeping in it). Messes, I guess. Messes that are ongoing and active and fresh.

Because they show signs of life.

That's what makes my home, home, and it would be the same no matter where we live. The truth is, although it's reasonable and normal to become attached in a sentimental way to a building, it's what's inside that counts - and by that I don't mean the amount of gadgets we own or beautiful ornaments we have. It's those new, fresh, active little chaotic bits - it's those that show signs of life. It's like evidence. Evidence that life is happening here. That my family are here. That this is where we all dwell.

It shows that we are alive.

And I guess that puts it all in perspective again. That really, it's not about having a mortgage or new sofas or nice things. What makes me feel alive is being around the people I love the most. And my home might facilitate that, but it's very much portable. That togetherness feeling of home can move wherever it needs to go, and it's not anchored by what everyone else around me might have. And the days that I forget to wake up and thank God for that - and for family, and for friends, and for Him - are days wasted.

So today, that's my answer. What makes me feel alive (amongst other things) is being here, in my beautifully imperfect, sometimes chaotic, wonderful home. Seeing the people I love. Cleaning up our everyday mess with the knowledge that I am blessed indeed to have them.

Blessed indeed.

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