Where I live in Texas, there are two dominant decorating motifs: every house either has a wall covered with ornamental crosses or a wall with large words spelling out some sort of creed for their home. Perhaps you’ve seen some of these, ranging from heartwarming to cheesy, on display as a celebration of marriage, kids, or family.
I’ve yet to see a large script decal with an uplifting mantra for singleness or a vision statement for roommates. And that’s not really a surprise, we often assume that a home of mission and purpose comes after you start a family, not before. These years tend to get categorized or sidelined as preparation for a next step.
A few years ago, single and in my late 20s, I became convicted of the potential and value of my current living situation— the year-to-year leases, the assemblage of housemates, our mismatch of dishes and furniture. God wanted me, and wants all of us, to live with purpose and mission now.
Afraid that I might let this time pass by in either purposeless and vanity or in begrudging selfishness, I created a creed for my single years. It’s three-fold: my housemates are my primary binding relationships; my home is my primary place of ministry; my house is a place of peace.
My housemates are my primary binding relationships
Culture would have us believe the single years are meant to be a time of freedom and unattachment, for living alone or dating around. The Bible prescribes for believers a better way though. All through the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles are teaching the early Christians how to close the gaps that exist between one another, and between God and them. Our aim should be to bind ourselves to one another for the good of one another.
In this season of life, outside of the covenantal bonds of marriage, singles can be intentional about choosing to live with others and making those people a priority. In regard to my finances, time, talents, and wisdom—the girls I live with are my primary partakers, they get my first-fruits. I seek to defer to them in all things for their good and my sanctification.
In sharing a home, they also have an inside view to my life and habits. My weaknesses are on display to them every day in every way. The besetting ways I fail do not go unnoticed or unchecked by these girls and my door is always open to them for rebuke or correction. We’re imperfect at this, but we’re are constantly exercising the beauty of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18).
My home is my primary place of ministry
Many young Christians may be able to relate to my situation. I am self-employed; I lead a small group; I write for many publications and am working on a book; I have lived in five states and still have close friends to keep up with in all of them; I have a huge family all over the U.S. who I see rarely; I go to a large church with many opportunities to serve: the list goes on.
Outside of our homes there are opportunities to minister all over, and especially as singles, we’re encouraged to use our time to serve our churches and communities. But here’s the problem: If our homes aren’t in order, we’re not going to serve well outside of it.
Therefore, I have established my home as my primary place of ministry. Whether that means I invite people into my home, or whether I give the best of my ministry (prayer, counsel, love, etc.) to my housemates, or whether home is simply the place where I sit deepest under the ministry of the Holy Spirit—whatever it is for that moment, home is where it’s happening for me. Ministry doesn’t just happen at the local church or non-profit, it starts at home. If it’s not in order here, it will not be in order when I leave and go do other ministry
I want to keep our home now, not only in preparation for how I may someday keep a home as a wife, but because today, this is my home and it is the place God has called me to cultivate (Gen. 1:28).
My house is a place of peace
Peace is not just a pretty painting on the wall, hanging there passively waiting to be disrupted. No. Peace is an active agent. There is a world of difference between being a peace-maker and peace-keeper. In our home we are peacemakers. We are makers of peace. Peace with one another. Peace with situations. Peace with the onslaught of the world that assaults each of us throughout our day.
My aim, at the end of the day, when I say, “Goodnight family, I love you,” is to settle it before bed: you are loved, you are known, and in this home, behind these doors, there is no onslaught toward you. There will never be animosity or intentional wounding coming from me to any of them. It is voiced often and expressed often too: we are on the same team.
It is hard to get five people with a 12 year age span on the same team, but we do our best to break into the difficulties, to face the challenges, and to engage in teamwork because peace in our home is our primary endeavor. Nothing brings me more joy than when I see my girls engaging one another in peaceful ways, and when others enter our home and are overwhelmed by the peace present there (Rom. 12:18).
Protection, Not Perfection
Whatever I choose to do gets filtered through those creeds. I do not hold to these perfectly (ask my housemates), but they have been ingrained in my spirit deeply enough that they are nearly second nature at this point. These are desires stemming from a heart joyful in my singleness, not demands requiring me to endure these years.
This creed has tightened up over time and displayed itself in a myriad of ways depending on the home in which I lived, the people with whom I lived, and our season of life. I have had over 30 housemates this decade; I have lived with crazy, kind, manipulative, wise, gentle, funny, and angry people, and I have been all of those things in return. No home is perfect, and I’m not seeking perfection in my home.
I’d encourage single Christians to write out a creed for their lives, their homes, and their ministries— especially those who feel like their best years are being thwarted by having to live with roommates instead of the person of their dreams. (The enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy, and he’s going to start with the place you spend most of your life and the people with whom you spent it. Don’t let him. Be proactive.)
The pervasive presence of the gospel in your home is going to be your best weapon against the enemy. Preach the gospel to yourself, infuse it into your conversations with your housemates, speak it to whoever comes into your door. Be intentional. Your lease isn’t the only covenant you’re living in right now. Don’t let the opportunity for lasting, meaningful relationship pass you by.
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