a guest post written by Lisa Dean
Growing up, my mother kept our house immaculate. If she reads this, she will likely deny the fact, but it’s true. She still does. The combination of her love for beautiful decor and her high standard for cleanliness creates a refuge from the rest of the world. As a kid in her house, I formed solid ideas and expectations about homemaking. And that’s why I vividly remember one afternoon at the home of my college Bible study leader.
Debbie’s house, like my mother’s, always felt warm and welcoming—an unpretentious space that put me at ease. One Sunday afternoon, our Bible study group celebrated a recent graduation by sharing a meal in Debbie’s kitchen. At one point I glanced into the unoccupied, adjacent dining room. The lights were off but sunlight from the windows illuminated a layer of dust covering the table. It’s possible she would be embarrassed to know I noticed this detail, but I think it’s more likely she knew all about the dust and chose not to care.
That one moment changed something in my perspective about homemaking. It helped me see that in either condition—whether spotless or soiled—a peaceful home is created by reflecting the welcoming heart of God.
Homemaking Illustrates Biblical Truth
We often think of peace in terms of inner tranquility, a quiet space, or the absence of conflict. These ideas of peace are based on circumstances—what’s happening around us or inside of us. While the Bible does speak about circumstantial peace in places, the word peace is more often used to address our reconciliation with God (through the gospel) and His presence sustaining us in the storms, conflicts, and chaos. God is with us in the mess, so we can confidently expect His peace to go there with us too.
I see the spiritual idea of peace illustrated in my homemaking and housekeeping, and maybe you do too. When I think about an ideal, peaceful home, the first pictures to flit through my mind boast of swept floors and breezy white decor. But if I take a few more minutes to think, I realize that the beautiful, clean space I picture in my mind is just an interpretation of what I truly crave in a peaceful home—a restful space that engages all five senses and awakens me to the reality of God’s presence.
A peaceful atmosphere springs forth from a heart on mission to display God’s loving, welcoming, and nurturing character. We can feel the presence and comfort of His Spirit not in spite of the messes around us, but through them.
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Okay, I get it—a verse about oxen and stables may seem out of place here, but hang with me. Scholars’ interpretations of this verse vary, but my takeaway is that a clean room should not be our highest priority. Work, play, and raising families creates a mess and can’t stand in the way of our mission to represent Christ through welcoming people in and loving them well. One article written about this verse says, “A life accomplishing anything will include a lot of messiness, including untidy houses and barns. But a messy house shows that people live there, people to love and be loved, people made in God’s image.”
In our hearts, God requires a righteousness which none of us are able to achieve on our own, so thankfully Jesus’s perfection is substituted for our lack. Similarly, I see the ways in which God’s presence in my home covers over countless imperfections. Praise God that a crumb-free floor isn’t required in order for His presence to dwell with us.
A household that welcomes His presence will always be more peaceful, warm, and welcoming than the most organized, beautiful space where His presence cannot be found.
Hospitality for Who?
Discussion about inviting people into our homes may bring up a sense of sorrow or loneliness after enduring months and months of pandemic-induced isolation. The days of gathering people together feel far off, but it doesn’t mean our work of homemaking and hospitality is no longer needed. In fact, I believe it’s needed now more than ever.
The pandemic flipped my idea of hospitality on its head. Rather than thinking of it primarily as a way to use my home for the service of outsiders, I began to see opportunities for offering hospitality to those who live here, myself included.
I remembered some of the ideas I read years ago in Sally Clarkson’s book, The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. At one point in the book she offers this perspective:
“My parents understood that the world that they made within the walls of our house was what constituted home. So I grew up in spaces framed by art and color, filled with candlelight, marked by beauty. I grew up within a rhythm of time made sacred by family devotions in the morning and long conversations in the evening. I grew up with the sense of our daily life as a feast and delight; a soup-and-bread dinner by the fire, Celtic music lilting in the shadows, and the laughter of my siblings gave me a sense of the blessedness of love, of God’s life made tangible in the food and touch and air of our home.”
Realistically, not many people other than my family of four are walking through the front door these days. But my belief in the importance of creating a place of beauty and rest that ministers to my family is what motivates me to do the work—to wipe the sticky countertops, to pick up one more toy, to redeem the mess in service to God.
Practical Ways to Pursue a Peaceful Home
At the end of many days, I wonder how I can be so tired. Despite all my effort, the house looks pretty much the same—a vibe I call “lived-in” with a dash of “could use a professional organizer.” After years of searching for ways to infuse my home with more of the peaceful atmosphere I long for, I have learned a few practical ways to create it.
Progress, Not Perfection
So much of housework is repetitive and unending. Dust never stops settling, and hampers never stop filling. For a time I struggled with this reality. What’s the point of cleaning up if it’s just going to be covered with a little person’s jelly handprints tomorrow?
My perspective began to change when I shifted my goal from perfection to progress.
Last Sunday my pastor’s sermon encouraged the congregation to pursue personal holiness despite the fact that we know we can’t achieve perfection on this side of heaven. Once we realign our expectation from an idea of perfection to one of progress, feelings of failure begin to evaporate
If a spotless home comes at the cost of creating frenzy and frustration in my heart, then I’ve come no closer to creating a peaceful atmosphere than when I first began. But when peace rules our hearts, our homes reflect that fact.
Musical notes wafting through the air cannot get grimy. If they could, I’m sure my kids would’ve made it happen by now.
Saturday mornings are usually reserved for mellow jazz tunes. Mealtimes are often backed with a soundtrack of classical strings. And praise and worship music lifts my spirit in the midst of the typical mid-afternoon slump.
Simply switching on a playlist can infuse peaceful, hopeful feelings into just about any room.
After seeing so much of my daily tidying and cleaning undone the next day, I began looking for ways to incorporate lasting changes into my home.
Last Saturday, my husband painted our front door a satiny, sophisticated black. I sat on our living room couch watching him put on the final touches. I couldn’t stop staring because even though a thousand wooden train pieces lay scattered around my feet, the impact of that dressed-up door overshadowed everything else.
Beautiful artwork, framed family photos, and lush green plants have the same effect. They stand out, begging to be noticed and often serve as wonderful conversation starters. The enduring beauty we bring into our rooms says something about us—our families, our travels, our tastes and hobbies. In my home, these pieces invite me to focus my eyes and rest my gaze. They inspire and encourage me, even in the midst of mess.
Peace is All About Him
As with any type of work in a Christian’s life, the point of homemaking is more about the Person we work for than it is about the work itself. Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” The result of our housework won’t last, but the inheritance we have in Christ surely will.
Peace begins and ends with Jesus. He began the good work of redeeming everything to Himself on the cross and He will finish the work one day when He returns.
On this side of eternity, we can serve Him in our homes and seek to reflect His character in the places and spaces we cultivate.
How do you foster peace in your home? Where have you seen the parallels between spiritual peace and homemaking in your own life? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Lisa Dean is a writer passionate about helping people cling to the peace only Jesus can provide. She writes and creates resources to invite readers on a journey of cultivating and claiming the peace of God by reframing everyday life in light of our eternal reality. She resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. When she’s not reading books to her kids, you can find her sipping coffee, striking a yoga pose, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen. You can find her online at lisazdean.com or follow her on Instagram @lisazdean. For more ideas on pursuing peace, checkout her free Journaling Toolkit: A Prayerful Approach to Fostering Peace, Contentment, and Growth.
And from me? A HUGE THANK YOU to LISA for this amazing post. Here’s a free download to get your FREE landscape print — 8×10 and send it to Walgreens. 🙂