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Making This House My Home

October 27, 2022

Maribeth Barber Albritton

For the first time since I was a little girl, I’m learning how to play house…and it’s more fun than I could’ve imagined. 

By the time you read these words I’ll be settling into a new home with my new husband. The manse we’ve been given—one of the greatest tangible benefits of his work as a pastor in a tiny Mississippi town—hearkens back to the 1950’s with its wood-paneled walls and its living room-dining room-den setup. 

As I write this, however, we’re still in the final weeks of our engagement. Every other Sunday I fill the back of my car with boxes of my own belongings as well as the wedding gifts that have arrived in the mail. Casey and I attend church together, grab some lunch, then head back to the manse and unpack the boxes. 

The amount of fun we’ve had is borderline outrageous. I’m almost embarrassed when I remember my gleeful reaction when we first pulled out the Kitchenaid stand mixer! All our dishes are neatly stacked in the kitchen cabinets, our combined libraries fill several sturdy bookcases, and my beloved writing desk now waits for me in the dining-room-turned-office. 

Yet amid the happy excitement, I’ve wrestled with a strange uncertainty. I’m beyond thrilled about starting a new life with the man I love, and I’m delighted over our shared opportunity to live, work, and serve in this small Southern town. I have no doubt that God spent years preparing us for each other and for this specific ministerial call. 

But the unease remains. It springs from the anxious, self-doubting corner of my mind that balks at the idea of staking my claim on my new home, a la Tom Cruise’s character at the climax of the film Far and Away. “This is my land! Mine by destiny!” Joseph Donnelly shouts at the top of his lungs. I love that old-fashioned American fairytale, overjoyed (no matter how many times I’ve seen it) once Joseph finally finds his place in this world. 

Can I claim the same confidence in “my land,” though? Can I take my husband’s hand, hold my head high, and say without a shadow of doubt or hesitation, “This is our home, and I am its keeper”?

When I put it that way, it does seem silly of me to ask such a question. Of course I can say such things! I’ll be the one cooking dinner, overseeing the laundry, preparing the shopping lists, and working alongside my husband to make this house a place of restful order. I’ll even be able to ask him, “Could we try moving that piece of furniture over there instead?”—and if we like the new set-up, we can say, “Oh, that looks great, let’s leave it there!” 

It won’t matter if a visiting friend or family member doesn’t like that furniture placement. It won’t even matter if they sniff at the size of my 1950’s kitchen, the wood paneling, or the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars decor we already have sprinkled around the dear old place. If Casey and I love it, and it works for us…well, that’s the end of the matter.

Or is it? What happens when I glance at that visitor—perhaps one who I dearly love, honor, and respect—and see the silent “Are you sure you want to do it that way?” in his or her eyes? They may never say a word, but I’ll know—or at least guess—what they’re thinking. Will I bend and crack under self-doubt and pressure, whether or not that pressure is real or only perceived?

There’s nothing wrong with honestly asking for someone’s opinion, of course. I expect I’ll ask for advice on many things. But I also know I’ll need to remind myself that I am the wife, the queen and keeper of my own home, and it won’t be sinful or shameful if Casey and I decide, together, to take a different route than the one advised (or implied) by someone we dearly love. We will be responsible, capable adults, our own independent and purposeful family unit. And we’ll have the God-given right to embrace that truth with confidence.

One morning when I felt particularly anxious about these things, I happened upon this passage in 2nd Corinthians:

“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:3-5, NIV)

Obviously, Paul wasn’t talking specifically about a homemaker’s competence. Yet when I read these verses, I actually stopped, raised my eyebrows in surprise, and whispered, “Oh!My role as wife and homemaker will soon be part of my life as “a letter from Christ”—and if that’s true, then it stands to reason that my competence, authority, and purpose within that role comes to me from the very throne of Heaven.

It was only a matter of time before I also connected those verses with one of my favorite sections in Joy Clarkson’s book, Aggressively Happy:

“Being an adult doesn’t mean fitting into some predetermined box of how adults should live; it means relishing your role as queen (or king) of your life, creating a life of order and simplicity, which becomes a source of stability to others […] Regard yourself with the respect that the responsibility you take for your life merits.” [1] 

One thing Casey and I have always agreed on is that we want our home to be a safe haven, a place where our guests can relax, be themselves, and never feel overwhelmed by any pretentious expectations. We want our life together to be simple, stable, and beautiful. But in order to achieve that, simply establishing boundaries with others won’t be enough. I must also regard myself with the respect that I deserve not just as a human being, but as the lady of the house. 

The fun of preparing the house together continues, and I eagerly await the fast-approaching day when I’ll be home to stay. But as these last few weeks speed by, I feel my courage rising, too. A new life is dawning, and with it a growing confidence in myself as a woman and a homemaker. Finally, I can give myself permission to embrace it. Finally, perhaps, I can even call myself a queen.

[1] Clarkson, Joy. Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life. Bethany House Publishers. 2022. 

Featured image is courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash. We are grateful for his generosity.


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