I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home.
Love has always been defined inside my head as selfless service. The early years of being a mother are very physical years of self-giving. Children grow inside your body, then leave your body in birth, then nurse from your breasts, and are dependent day and night on the physical presence of another human being, who both anticipates the needs of the growing child, as well as learns to translate the cries of the infant as he calls out.
The first decade of motherhood gave me a deep appreciation and awareness of my humanness. I discovered what my body was able to do, but I also realized the innumerable limitations. The pain, selflessness, and physicality of mothering gave me a direct connection to Christ. In the giving of my body in the rearing of children, I learned that love was suffering, that suffering is a way we draw nearer to God, and He to us.
The wonderful things about lessons this deep, is that they never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever leave you. The blessings, the wounds, are a part of me now, and I carry them with me now into the future. As motherhood becomes less physical in nature, in that my body has gained back space for itself, I am thinking on what love means for me in this season. My body is still itself an instrument of service, but not in the same lowly, intimate way.
It’s interesting to me, that in the Titus 2 passage where it speaks on women loving husbands and children, the word for love there is not the sacrificial “charity” kind. It’s the warm, brotherly, affectionate kind. It’s also interesting to me that the “philos”, brotherly kind of love is the kind most extinguished with the presence of bad feelings. I’m shifting my “love” mindset to match the love needed in this particular season, the effort of teaching children the ways of personal responsibility and service to others.
As I think about the possible resolutions this new year, or even about a New Year’s word, the word “mindful” is the word that comes to mind. Mindful, that is, the opposite of “mindless”. There’s the obvious example of the “scrolling” on the phone, but beyond that even, I want to actively engage more the physical world. The little things add up, and I’m curious to see what it would look like, if in those smaller increments of time, if in the way I daily live my life, if in the way in which I love the others, I sought to be “mindful”.
I find my primary efforts still focused toward the home. I still feel that futile failing endlessness of a job too big for one fallen limited person. I could bemoan all the ways it seems the American lifestyle, as it stands, does not even feel set up in a way for homes to actually be viable, but winter is the perfect time when home feels necessary. As I seek to love my husband and children, I want to be mindful of the endless ways to build the home, to experience home as a place of beauty, production, hospitality, and benevolence.