You might know her. She lives in a world of chaos and disorder. Drama and domestic violence are her everyday surroundings. She shares a sparsely-furnished low-income apartment with various people who come and go. She’s never known anything different because she was born into this world of neglect and poverty, with distorted relationships and TV commercials as education.
She’s hoping to marry soon. When asked about what kind of home she would like to have, she paused. Wistfully, she slowly replied, “A Christian home. Where we eat dinner together at a table with chairs, with nothing but the food on the table. And a vase of silk flowers in the middle.” That was her vision of a beautiful home life. It made me weep.
In our modern-day society of too many fragmented families, neglected children and homes-as-motels, people have a vague sense of something missing and a wish for whatever it is. Of course the problems run much deeper than a quick fix with a vase of flowers, but this young woman’s desire for some order and beauty in her sad life are a clue.
The human soul longs for beauty even in stark circumstances. In the moving book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom shares how her sister Betsie brought beauty to the stark surroundings of a prison in Nazi-occupied Holland. She describes how,
unbelievably, against all logic, this cell was charming….The straw pallets were rolled instead of piled in a heap, standing like little pillars along the walls, each with a lady’s hat atop it….Even the coats hanging on their hooks were part of the welcome of that room, each sleeve draped over the shoulder of the coat next to it like a row of dancing children…
Of course, spectacular mansions can be occupied by unhappy, lonely people. Appearance and possessions alone don’t create a warm home life. But for the average family living an average life, a little more attention to detail and going the second mile can set the stage for a more pleasant and memorable life. Someone wistfully standing on tiptoe outside the window of your family life is watching.
No matter how stressed and busy you are, there is someone, somewhere in the world, who would love to trade places with you and do what you are doing.
You never know how you are inspiring and encouraging someone while you are living your everyday life. The startling realization that someone would love to have your life is a good antidote to self-pity. Fresh perspective is a good shot in the attitude.
I hope that young woman gets her table and chairs. And a vase of flowers.