What makes a house a home?

I find it interesting how the mind begins to construct concepts like a home over a lifetime of experiences, thoughts, and emotions.  A house isn’t a home, but a house can become a home. One can also have a home without a house. So, what is the difference between these two terms?  A home has a visceral sense of being where I belong. I am wanted. I am safe. I am free to be who I was created to be. I can experience these deep feelings, thoughts and through all my senses know it (gnosko in Greek) as a place of mine and for me. It is an extension of who I am. 

A house is simply a building that provides protection from the elements and an opportunity to build relationships with others.  It can become a home if it is safe, comforting, inviting, and love is present.  Safety, transparency, acceptance by others, and love are some of the factors that make a difference.  As I write this I struggle, because children often live in houses where they are not safe, able to be transparent, accepted, or loved by others. Only when these elements are present does a house provide the home that we need.

As I think about this I realize so many people in our world lack a home. Many have a house, but it is clearly not a home.  Others don’t even have a house.  I would suspect that a tent, yurt, trailer, cave, or treehouse could be a home if it met these qualities.  Though these qualities have been defined differently over the centuries, 1 Corinthians 13 has always been a good summary of what is necessary to make a house a home.

These past few weeks have made it apparent to me that I attempted to make a new house our house, while Mary Kay thinks more in terms of making our new house our home.  She hinted at this when, after we moved all our belongings into the new house, she said that it felt more like our home. 

She approaches a new house from “making a home” perspective.  She wants it to be inviting, comforting, sensitive to the desires and needs of others, and accepting to everyone.  She is concerned the colors are warm and welcoming.  She considers the ambiance, how people will face each other when seated, or what pictures communicate appropriately on the walls. On the other hand, I have thought more in the terms of “making a house” perspective like floorspace, putting up the fans, light fixtures, and getting the internet working right.  Whereas I want to get the right furniture in each room, she desires to arrange it in an inviting manner. 

Obviously, both approaches are helpful. However, I have learned that each of these approaches are very different and can cause conflict if not addressed openly and intentionally.  We can set up on house in a couple of weeks, but it takes much longer to make it our home. 

This is what recently struck me about selling our home in Orlando.  We had spent almost 20 years making it our home, and it was all the things described above.  But now we start again to turn our house into our home. 






One response to “What makes a house a home?”

  1. thomas phillips Avatar
    thomas phillips

    …to borrow from, and paraphrase Mark Twain…

    Wheresoever (Irene) is, there is home…


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