Monday, April 16, 2012


I have been spending a lot of time on Design Sponge lately.  I enjoy the site's sneak peeks of personal spaces, the photographs and back stories of carefully crafted homes in a range of styles (and yet, is it just me who thinks the homes often seem to display very similar features?  Stacked antique suitcase bedside tables, anyone?  Say that five times fast...)

I love the stories explaining the objects or creative decisions as much as I love seeing glimpses of someone else's sacred space.  I like the narratives that go along with certain pieces of art, pieces of furniture passed down through generations of a family, special trinkets collected on a life-changing trip.  I like to think about my own objects of meaning, things I display because they hold some special significance to me--photographs of my family, a mug painted by Britt, a life-changing novel, my worn red Bible, a note from dear Chris.  I even appreciate the display of objects simply for the sake of beauty.  This is why I clip up a beautiful postcard or buy flowers for my housemates.  Beauty is valuable.  It holds the potential to change us or help heal something twisted inside us.  I do not want to live in a colorless world, dedicated so fully to functionality that it sacrifices the joy of loveliness. 

And yet--

Ultimately, I do not want to live in a home that is constructed as a shrine to my interests and quirks.  

Do I want the things around me to reflect me, to somehow capture the experiences, people, and ideas that have shaped me?  Absolutely.  I am not dismissing the value of an object to hold precious sentimental or inspirational value.  Certain items, photographs, artwork, even colors can act as a prompt that triggers rememberance of a formative experience, of one's priorities in life.  It is not wrong to keep objects or items that reflect our personalities, our beliefs, our personal tastes.
But I am afraid too many of us cultivate spaces that become our identities.  In these scenarios, the objects don't reflect us--we are actually using things to try and construct an identity for ourselves.  A woman becomes her outfit.  A man becomes his car.  A woman becomes her art collection.  A man becomes his record collection.  Please ignore these somewhat stereotypical gender assignments, but hopefully it illustrates my point that objects can be forced into identity roles they were never intended to fill.

Even more, I fear this focus on things causes individuals to become so busy sifting through antique stores and clipping up artwork, they forget entirely about the truly important things in life.  I fear such people are so interested in having nice things and being seen as a creative/innovative/stylish that they care more about hip labels than, for example, helping families in Africa find clean water to drink, or helping women enslaved by sexual bondage and human trafficking find new lives.  I'm afraid the style-conscious persuade themselves to legitimize their selfishness as "art" and don't know how to do the things like sit with someone, or listen, or give money away without getting something in return, or sacrifice what they want for someone else to thrive.  As my pastor Richard once said, "Without great intention, your energies will be diffused in a million different directions--so don't lose sight of the purpose for which you were created."  Have we become so muddled that we truly believe the style and beauty of a home is more important than a human life?

(I'm afraid of this for myself--hence the searing words to my own greed and loss of persepective).

So yes, I will probably continue to look at design websites and appreciate the lovely homes.  I will earmark a magazine page or tuck pictures away from inspiration, because I like mood lighting and oversized couches and all that jazz.  I will hope to keep objects in my home that I find beautiful, meaningful, and useful.  I know I will. 

But in the deepest part of my heart--I want to care more about people than good design.  I want to be known for generosity more than being stylish.  I want to give my money to empower the oppressed more than I want to invest in an antique trinket.  I want to be associated with fighting injustice more than I want to be known for my outfits.  I want to love much better than I decorate.  Because when I really think about it, it's more important for the women with fistulas to be healed than for me to buy another pair of jeans.  It's more crucial that the illiterate children learn to read than for me to buy another trinket.  It's better to sit with someone and listen than it is to add to my collection of sheer stuff.

And in the end, I'd like to be able to leave it all behind.  

I just forget sometimes.  Can we remember together?


  1. "I'm afraid the style-conscious persuade themselves to legitimize their selfishness as "art" and don't know how to do the things like sit with someone, or listen, or give money away without getting something in return, or sacrifice what they want for someone else to thrive"
    Sarah. Your words are so profound. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying them. This especially is a treasure.

  2. This is so true, these things are good, God created them and can be used for His glory, God was very specific when he designed the arch of the covenant and even when He describes Heaven with jewels and Gold and specific measurements. He can and does use art and beauty in his creation to reflect his own beauty. However the enemy is clever. It is tempting to forget how cunning he is and how he does change with the times. It can be tempting to skip over verses about worshiping false idols such as golden cafes, forgetting the very nature of our enemy to deceive and change with the times. Its good for our minds to think about these things. Hope its ok I continue the discussion I hope that's more faltering, because it means your writing is doing more than just being appreciated.

  3. I LOVE to hear the thoughts of my friends! I want the things I write about here to be part of a conversation--a back-and-forth of pondering and ideas! Thank you for continuing the conversation, Tiffers. xo

  4. (and you, too, Danni, my love). ;)