Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Homely Comparisons

I think I learn something every time I go to someone else's house. I know we say we're not supposed to compare ourselves to others, but I think life would be flat and silly (maybe even pointless?) if we didn't. We're all different. That's what makes the world interesting and allows us to learn and grow.

When I go to someone else's house, of course I notice differences between theirs and mine. (not including decor. Most everyone has better/nicer/newer decor than we do. I don't compare there.) I might make mental, often hardly conscious observations like this:

Man, clean (uncluttered) surfaces everywhere!
Eeek. I'm sticking to the back of this dining chair!
What a great idea for a chore chart!
Wow, they're really teaching responsibility the way they have their kids care for their pet!
I hope that stack of books doesn't fall off the piano onto anyone's head.
I have to ask for this recipe!

I learn about things I could improve in my own home. I also learn about things I am doing well. I am reminded that the little things I neglect and don't notice anymore will be noticed by visitors to my own home (hello, piles of papers on the stairs!). It's pretty easy not to judge because our strengths and weaknesses are different and it is easy to recognize that. It's also pretty easy not to get down on myself because I do have strengths, and can work on my weaknesses.

In every house I learn something about how I think my own home should be.

And then I visit the house in which I learn everything about how my home should be.

  • The people working there are happy, helpful and calm. They work and seem to care only for the smooth, proper functioning of the house and the joy of those who are inside. They stand, not preoccupied or absorbed with any distraction, but very open, always looking for ways to help anyone that may have problems or who even just may want to chat for a moment.
  • It is clean there. Very clean.
  • There is a schedule. It is followed and everyone goes about their business knowing what to expect. Things get done; people do those things willingly.
  • A spirit of service and love is felt everywhere.

I learn all of these things and do my best to make my own home a house of order, peace and love.

But more than what I learned through observation in that house, I learned through the spirit. I learned what I already know. What I have always known. What matters most to me. But somehow learning it again changes me.

I learn that my Father really, really loves me. I am his. That is amazing. He has big plans for me. I can be so much more than I have been. I have not been who I am. How did I forget who I am, even while I knew it?

How did I forget why on earth I'm here? Or rather why I'm here on Earth? I knew it. I did, and I was reminded and refocused over and over again, but even then, I didn't really get it all the way, I think.

In that house I learned how my home should be. And I learned how and what and who I should be. And why.


Lara said...

I think you have articulated here exactly why we are told to have a house like the temple. Especially your last point: A spirit of service and love felt everywhere.

I sure do fall short of that a lot. But, it's nice to get all the reminders.

Now, to go take that stack of books off of my piano! How did you know? I didn't think you'd ever visited my house...

Thora said...

I love the temple. Also, I love the first part of the post - I do observe others' houses - not to judge, but to learn. Anyway, as I started reading it, I didn't realize you meant the temple - I just thought you visited someone's house who was very caring and thoughtful. But then on the second point, I thought to myself, "this sounds like the temple. I love how organized the temple is - I want a house like this, like the temple." Then I realized you DID mean the temple.

I love going there - I haven't been since June when Guinevere was born, and I miss being there, and relearning understanding of me, of why I am here, of the big picture of returning to Heavenly Father, and not the small pictures of laundry and diapers and budgeting that fill my everyday life.

That's great you were able to go for a week. We're going on Saturday, and I'm so excited to get back there - and greatful that I have a temple close by. Especially seeing the sacrifice that people like you make to attend the temple revigorates me in my temple attendance.

Barbaloot said...

Isn't it great that we can go back over and over to learn and re-learn those things? How sad it would be if we only got to go through once for ourselves.

Susan said...

I know exactly what you mean. About other people's houses. About the temple. and About the remembering what I've already known, in new discovering. Personally I like who you are, and why.

Heidi said...

Ooh, ooh, oooh, I know that house! I love it there, too! As for comparing ourselves to others . . .I think it is certainly fine when we do it without judgement (of ourselves or others) and when we keep it in perspective. As you point out so well, it's how we learn. It's when we compare our VALUE to the VALUE of others based on what we observe that is so destructive. Also, when we compare the worst of ourselves with the best of others, we are setting ourselves up in an unfair way.

charrette said...

I love your comparisons, Lisa. I had a wonderful experience in Los Angeles once when I had planned to serve there after a client meeting, and the meeting went long, but I just longed to enter, to BE THERE, anyway. I asked one of the lovely workers if I could just sit in the celestial room. She gave me permission, and as I was climbing the huge spiral staircase I had the most powerful overwhelming feeling that I was welcome there. In His house. That He was glad I'd come. It still makes me glow inside just to think about it.

I hope I can always help people feel that welcome in my home.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

as a p.s. to this (and the comment you left at my place), Have you noticed they don't let kids hang out in the temple? That's why I'm convinced we're held to a totally different standard. :)

Becky said...

I know that house too! What a great post - thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in the I-wish-I-were-different trap that I forget I'm pretty okay as I am. That's always nice to hear.

Erin said...

I read this post a few days ago but didn't have the time (or arms maybe if I was holding Kaitlyn) to comment. I love your comparison of our homes to Heavenly Father's home. Just beautiful.

Melissa said...

This is so wonderful and reminds me that I need to try to make my own home a little bit more like the temple.

L.T. Elliot said...

This is something I'm trying to hard to understand. It's something that's just barely eluding my grasp. Oh, I *know* that I'm His and He loves me but it's hard to know that it's an individual love.

I want a home like that, too.