What expectations do people have for their homes? A great deal can be learned about someone by their ideal home situation, both in the space and in the activity that can be found in their homes. It is not coincidental, or merely a reflection on my antiquarian tastes, that I myself see my ideal home as some sort of castle or fortress. This is true for a variety of reasons, some of them related to my interests in history (with modern technology and conveniences, of course), and a great many other concerns related for my desire for home to be a safe place and a refuge from the troubles and cares of the outside world. Not everyone shares this ideal–while I prefer to keep neighbors and strangers a bit at bay with a moat and walls, other people prefer to be up close with others. That is not to say that my desire is antisocial–a good castle has plenty of room for a large common area (a ballroom would probably be my preference for large social space), but it is sociability once one has proven one’s self to be safe.
Far more important to me than buildings (though I enjoy those) is people. For me my love of good conversation is balanced by a desire for peace. There is a great deal of irony, I suppose, in my love of peace (if not necessarily quiet) when it comes to home. To put it mildly, my life has been rather conflict-ridden, but I want home to be a place where such fighting is not to be found. This presents some challenges, as I am not the sort of person who values a sham peace, but rather someone who is looking for a genuine sense of harmony and unity. This sort of peace does not come naturally, but it must be fostered by the love and respect of everyone involved. This is not an easy thing to do, and there are many places one can go wrong (quite a few of which I know from extensive personal experience).
But it would appear that not everyone wants their home to be a safe haven at all. This was something I had taken relatively for granted. Just about everyone I know likes peace (if not necessarily quiet) in their homes, whether that peace is found by building a man cave in the midst of a household of women, or cultivating hours of quiet reading, or filling one’s homes with accoutrements like hot tubs or pools or private cinema or game rooms. These are all ways that fun and peace can be found. Not everyone seems to desire peace as part of their home life. Or at least if they do, they have a funny way of finding it and looking at it. I say this because I know a few people who desire to complicate their life with plural marriages and the like, and I can think of few desires less conducive to peace in the household than a desire to be an Old Testament patriarch and pit two women and families against each other for love, time, affection, attention, and money. Personally, I open the pages of my Bible and cannot find a single happy story of plural marriages. Not one. I want one wife and an honorable and godly family, but some people are apparently not content with such modest desires.
This world is full of conflicts. Some of these conflicts are necessary, many are not. Some of these conflicts are with false friends, others with genuine enemies, and some of them are even within ourselves. But given the conflict-ridden nature of our world, we would do well to seek no unnecessary conflicts nor make any unnecessary enemies. I ponder often on this point, seeking to understand what the ground by which conflict can be found or avoided. I have seen conflicts result from misunderstandings, from offenses (many, many different kind of offenses), as well as from differences in worldview. Of these sources of conflict, differences of worldview are the most fundamental, but at the same time offenses seem to be the hardest to overcome. And where there is a lack of love and respect, and where there is insecurity and defensiveness, offenses will not be lacking on any side. Hopefully, we may all do a better job of avoiding those offenses, and in keeping our homes as safe havens, a place of comfort and peace from the storms of life. Much practice remains to be done in order to develop the habits of peacemaking, but such work appears necessary, however difficult or hard it is.