Home: The Most Significant Place in the World
In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Thing Are, Max grows tired of being king of all the wild things, and he says, “I’m lonely. I want to go back. I want to go where I’m loved the most.” He wanted to go home. It’s what most of us often want to do—go home.There are many important venues in our lives: school, church, work and other places filled with memories and adventures. As important as school, church and workplace are, however, home—as Max discovered—is far more important.I have spent a lot of time talking with people—young and old, men and women—from every region of the world. The community, the buildings, the customs will differ. Mansions, shacks, ships, tents, apartments, houses--it's amazing what we call home. The size and make-up—from a couple and child, a few singles or large extended families—vary widely.But consistently home is usually the most significant place in the world for us, for our children, for families. Home is where our hearts turn and return.In my hopes and dreams, home should be. . .
Where you are loved the most.
Though others in your life elsewhere will love you, consistent and unconditional love should always be available to you at home. There should be no fear or threat of losing this love.
Where people know you the best.
You should be able to be yourself at home and know that you’ll be accepted, supported and affirmed. You should feel comfortable with being yourself here, not trying or feeling the need to be somebody you’re not. From your earliest memories, what you feel about yourself and your life and your possibilities evolve from the atmosphere in your home. Whether you think you’re smart or not so smart, attractive or plain, capable or incapable, a winner or a loser depends largely on what you learn at home, what messages are given you about yourself from those closest to you.
A growing place.
At home you should find the freedom to experiment and develop as an individual, to discover what you are gifted in and identify your weaknesses, to try things and feel the freedom to fail. You need to be able to express freely, in any number of ways, the creativity that God has placed within you. Home should be a safe place to make the attempts to define who you are.
Where relationships are important.
This is where people should learn to care about others and believe the best about each other. They should be available to each other in times of need, and should be able to enjoy one another. This is the place where honesty and affirmation coexist to help members of the family learn how to interrelate in caring and truthful ways. Learning to speak the truth in love should begin here.
A place of oneness.
Despite disagreements or differences, everyone should be able to say, “I’m for you, and you’re for me, and we’re all for each other.” That is a family. Loyalty develops here, that choice that allows you to stand by those you love no matter what the circumstances or outside influences dictate. Commitment to individuals at this level builds unity and establishes a foundation of strength in numbers.
A place of responsibility.
Here a person learns how to live in this world, to fulfill obligations, and to be a good citizen. It is the place where we learn to own our decisions, to accept the consequences of our choices in a safe and loving environment.
A place of memories and traditions.
We learn about our roots at home, and we establish traditions of our own that give us a sense of stability and permanence. All our lives, we carry memories of home and of all that our family has meant to us. It helps us understand how we’ve become who we are, and what it took us to get there. It is a valuing of our personal history, recognizing that God wastes nothing in making us more like Jesus, whether it is pleasant or painful. It is also the place to make safe changes to ensure a positive and encouraging legacy for the future.
A place of shelter.
It is so comforting to be able to come home when life has been difficult, when friends have been unkind, when success has been elusive, or when loving has been painful. It is a refuge and a place to heal, a safe haven that encourages restoration and celebration, a sanctuary that allows tears and failure.No home, of course, can be all of these things all the time or even some of the time. No home will be perfect. I have known—up close--a few that would receive high marks, and others that have failed miserably and painfully. Most of our homes fall somewhere between amazing and awful.These are the qualities we sought to grow in our home, and I pray the same for our children’s homes. The possibilities usually increase when a home is dedicated to God and filled with people seeking to please Him and to love each other.And home can increasingly be the place that we, like Max, can go after our days, or years, of being king of all the wild things—to find what our heart has been looking for.What about you? What is your home like?This is a rewritten excerpt from my long ago book What Can a Mother Do?C2012 Judy Douglass