Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Proverbs 14:1:
The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
A wise woman will build her house.
This is not referring to hammer and nails, although, I suppose it could begin with that. My aunt and uncle lived in a very old, inconvenient house for many years. When my uncle built a new one, it was enjoyable for my aunt to be involved in how it was set up, which side of the house would have windows, and how high or low the kitchen counters would be.
These verses refer to much more. They address the relationships a woman has in her home. Building a home where there is children involves love and discipline (Prov. 6:20) and providing for their needs (Prov. 31:13-15). It involves serving her husband (Prov. 12:4).
Building a house involves industry and commitment, and it is not confined to the married woman. Women who are single have homes, and they build them, too. Many single women have children, so the way it looks for one woman may not be the same for another.
What does it mean to build my home? My children are grown and mostly on their own. Does that mean I get a pass on building my home? No. I still have a husband, and I still have a home. My home can be used for more than just chasing toddlers around or hosting sleepover parties.
Building a home means it is my priority. Whether my vocation is to be home full-time or perhaps working outside the home, my home is still my priority. Certainly, having work outside the home means one must juggle more, but home is still important. In my position, with no children and no career, it could be very tempting to just plop down on the couch and read all day, or knit or crochet all day. I've done that. Even those of us who continue to find our primary vocation inside our homes need to make a priority.
Building a home means making it a place people want to be. And I don't just mean in elaborate decoration, although if that's your strength, by all means, make it lovely. I'm not a decorator. The attractiveness of a home extends beyond appearance. It involves hospitable owners and warm and loving conversation. One of the best times I had with a friend not long ago was a simple cup of coffee at her dining room table. I wanted to be there, and I knew she wanted me there by the way she welcomed me.
If I want to build my home well, I need to like being home myself. When I was growing up, some years my mother worked, and some she did not. She preferred to be at home full-time. We loved it when she didn't work, because her attetion to the house was greater. She had more time for us, and was less stressed out. The house ran smoothly. Knowing I had a mother who wanted to be home with us meant a great deal to me, and it set an example I was determined to follow. Working mothers cannot be at home as often as they would like, but when they are not working, they can definitely communicate to their children that they are glad to be home when they are there.
Building a home means reducing conflict. There is nothing more disruptive and more off-putting than open conflict in a home. When you were a child, did you ever leave a friend's house because there was always arguing and bickering? Did you ever leave your own home because there was too much arguing and bickering? Was it nicer to stay with a friend than go home to arguing and quarreling parents? Proverbs has a lot to say about quarreling (Prov. 19:13; Prov. 26:21; Prov. 27:15-16). That is one way to tear down our homes: being argumentative, petty, and bickering. My husband would not tolerate that kind of thing when we got married, and I'm glad. Quarrelsome parents often beget quarrelsome children.
I am a homebody. I love to be home. It's the place where I can, as my mother used to say, "let my hair down." For our families and friends, it should be also. That means building a comfortable environment. If home is important to us, it will show. If we neglect our homes, that, too will show.
I feel very fortunate for my home. God gave it to me. With gratitude, I want to be a good steward of that.