Beautiful Is Never Perfect: Content to Rent

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As a child, I didn’t have huge dreams, impressive ambitions, or fancy prayers. I was a simple girl who looked forward to having a family and settling down in a little white house and growing something – you know, like a garden.

Compared with what other people were asking of God, I figured my request for a quiet life would be pretty easy to fill. But you know what happened?

The opposite.

My husband and I have moved 734 times in our marriage.

Actually, it’s been thirteen times in eighteen years of being married, but as my fellow frequent movers know, each move can feel like ten moves. Only one house was white, and that’s because I paid to have it painted white. Six months later, we had to move out.

Along the way, we’ve lost two businesses, had a disgusting amount of debt, and been embarrassed by what all this did to our credit. Every time I decided to plant peonies or hydrangeas, we moved before they bloomed. We have not settled down into a cozy little white house. We have not really settled down at all.

I didn’t think it was fair that we had to move so much, but I couldn’t complain. Our kids were healthy, my husband was supportive, and it didn’t seem very Jesus-y to fret over a house.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

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I finally realized that maybe all the junk I didn’t like about our lives was part of a story, a story with an ending I’d like even if it wasn’t what I had imagined. Those thirteen homes weren’t a waste. They were teaching me valuable lessons and I almost missed it. I almost gave up and believed the lie that loving the home you are in is reserved for a few lucky people whose circumstances happen to work out just right.

“Someday” Is Now

Have you given up on the idea that you can love your home? Do you find yourself thinking that your next house will be the one you love? Do you put off decorating projects until “someday” because someday you’ll have time and money to do it “right”? And yet do you long to create a beautiful home for more than beauty’s sake?

I sense a restlessness among women – my neighbors, my online friends, and most of all, myself.

We desire something more than the next DIY craze or perfectly decorated space. We want to truly love, appreciate, and use our homes. We don’t want to put a bandaid on something we hate, no matter how cute and budget-friendly that bandaid may be. But we don’t know where to start. And hey, we are smart women; we also crave a sense of balance. Yes, we enjoy beauty and love a pretty room, but we aren’t willing to destroy our finances or realign our priorities to get there.

Creating a beautiful home is a journey, not a destination.

That’s why this book isn’t about decorating a house. It’s about creating a beautiful, meaningful home that you love. Right where you are. It includes practical tips, but more important, it presents a philosophy of decorating that I’ve found so freeing that it guides every decorating decision I make in my own home.

Do you believe it’s possible to love where you are, right now, today?

I promise, I have made every home decorating mistake, and then some. I have spilled the gallon of discount paint on the floor of the rental. I have spilled the quart of expensive paint on the pretty shelf. I have broken the oversized mirror. I have regretted the fabric, I have measured once and cut twice, I have painted one room five different colors in two years, I have made too many nail holes, ripped the sofa, purchased the wrong size, and bought chandeliers that were too small. I have returned rugs and lamps and pillows. I’ve been there, ruined that. I have lived to tell.

And my house is better for it.

In our thirteen houses, I have made every mistake. It’s been the best education I could have asked for. If I’d never tried, my house would still look like it did eighteen years ago. I’d still be giving dirty looks to a plaid hand-me-down sofa.

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Greater Purposes

In September of 2010, I got a gift in the mail from my friend Dee: a canvas with the names of all of the streets where we’ve lived (by Red Letter Words). I opened it and bawled. I cried the ugly cry – the trembling, snotty, bloodshot-eyes cry. My husband, afraid and confused, told me I didn’t have to display the canvas if it made me sad. Sad? What? Did this look sad to him? Clearly I was happy! Seeing all the street names in one place helped me see something that had been happening all along. Woven through each of our sad/happy/weird transitions was a story, and I was beginning to see what the story was about. Because with all that moving and debt and non-white-house living and discontentment and guilt about feeling discontent and living in rentals when I wanted to own, I still got what I was looking for: a home.

I can sit here today in our rental house and embrace where we live and declare that I’m content. Because I trust that even though this might not be the exact home I’d choose, God chose it for me, and it is home.

I don’t have a little white house. I have a big subdivision-style plastic house. But the people I love are here. I don’t have a garden. But things are growing. I don’t have all the money or time I want to decorate. But I have enough to take risks, be a little quirky, and enjoy the process.

I love sharing my lived-in home with friends, online, and now with you through this book. I don’t open my home because it’s finally done and presentable. I share it for the same reason I wear a bikini to the pool. It’s not because I think I look great in it. It’s because I’m finally okay that I don’t. It’s the same with our home. I don’t share it because it’s perfect; I share it because I’m finally okay that it’s not.

I can accept the fact that my house and life and body aren’t perfect, because I trust there is a greater purpose. I trust that God knows what he’s doing, and I don’t have to panic and attempt to make sense of it all.

I’ve given up trying to control our circumstances and instead am determined to create a home wherever we are. And that’s made all the difference.

For Renters, Transients, and Modern-Day Nomads

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Reluctant Renters

As a renter, I’ve always felt like the unreached people group of the design world. We really aren’t that much of a minority: one-third of Americans today rent their homes. Sure, there are all sorts of inspiring ideas for those singles in New York City leasing tiny lofts with exposed brick walls. But what about the suburban mom? What about someone like me who struggles with feeling second class as the renter in the subdivision with the HOA full of homeowners? What about the military family or the missionaries or the pastor’s family living in the parsonage sometimes referred to as “the dilapidated shack next to the church”?

At times I’ve felt like renting was my dirty little secret and that I was just waiting on our next house so I could make it pretty. But not anymore. We’ve rented ten different homes in our past eighteen years of marriage, and I am finally content to rent.

Excerpted with permission from The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith, copyright Myquillin Smith.

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Your Turn

What about you? Have you believed the lie that “loving the home you are in is reserved for a few lucky people whose circumstances happen to work out just right”? Have you put off hosting a Bible study, or a community dinner, or having guests over for until you can afford to buy this or that so your home looks just right? Do you love your home as is? My kids and I moved into my folks’ house four years ago. It was humbling and it took a long time to give myself permission to feel “at home”, to personalize my space a little bit, and truly enjoy it even though it’s not what I imagined for us during this season of life. How about you? Come join the conversation on our blog! I’d love to hear from you about creating and enjoying the beauty of your home without needing it to be perfect! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Myquillyn Smith

For the past five years Myquillyn Smith, “The Nester,” has been encouraging women to embrace the home they are in. She’s known throughout the blogging world as “The Nester” and writes a blog called “Nesting Place,” a site from which she wants readers to leave with hope, motivation, and inspiration for their homes. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three boys, their hockey paraphernalia, and plenty of brown dog hair. Everything in their house is washable, destroyable and imperfect. They have moved thirteen times in eighteen years of marriage. They are renters. And they love their home. Website: www.thenester.com

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