It has been close to five months since everyone’s lives were turned around as COVID-19 made its appearance. And although I have continued to try to find those silver linings in the middle of this pandemic, it has been difficult at times.
However, it has taken five months for me to see one positive aspect that I should have noticed quite some time ago. To be honest, I am a little embarrassed that it took a silent enemy for me to come to the realization.
The Patterson home, my home, has become a true sanctuary. Sure, we have heard those traditional saying, “home sweet home.” But hearing it and truly applying it are two totally different things.
Not to say that it is all rose gardens and pixie dust. There are many times when stress and just plain old being on top of each other with the four other members of my family can get the best of me. But I took a long, hard assessment of the situation a few weeks ago and decided to make the best of it in this “new world order.”
Looking past the dirty dishes in the sink and the dust on the tables, I began to see my home as a true sanctuary. A bubble, if you will, from the trials and tribulations that occur regularly outside its doors. Yes, those dreaded household chores and the challenges of the outside world do seep in from time to time. And there is no sure fire way to keep all the negativity outside the walls of your home because it is just human nature.
But I have recently found myself eager to get home every day. The same place I was itching to get out of every now and then when COVID first hit, those first few months, I now find myself counting the minutes until I can return to her.
My husband Jason has been a self-described hermit for several years now, but he also shares my recent sentiments that one should strive to make your home a sanctuary. Even my three rambunctious children find themselves “just wanting to go home” when we take them out for an occasional outing.
Over the past two months, I have taken more pride in trying to make home a place where we can be ourselves, explore hobbies, work on problem areas and just generally be happy. Granted, there are arguments, broken toys and spirits to repair, but those simply come with the territory of life.
Jason and I are eating more home cooked meals together with our family. They may not always be the healthiest of choices, but that is another cause to work on later. We try to eat around the dinner table as a family, but when we can’t do that, we at least try to eat together in the same room. Conversations, laughter and even disagreements happen. But we are at least together, even if for that one moment, totally indebted to each other’s company and thoughts.
I have taken up more reading over late night television shows. That one has really been a life-changer. I have always enjoyed reading, but now I am taking the time to absorb what I am reading and not just trying to rush through a book just to say I completed it. Taking notes and underlining passages and words I don’t understand has really helped keep my brain sharp. And with three kids and a hectic job, I need all the help I can get.
Seeing home as a sanctuary has allowed me to truly relax more and take in the true rewards of having a roof over my hand. Yes, the bills pile up and some nights are spent trying to figure out our next steps in this crazy world. But my home is where I can try to fix those areas to the best of my ability.
A good book, a hot meal, a comfortable chair, an entertaining television show, a game of checkers with the kids or just a good talk with Jason at the end of the night has outshined any large gathering or expensive purchase.
It may not be the same with everyone, but it is what is working for us. And that is the secret…find what works.
J.R. Miller, a minister from the mid-1800s and early 1900s, said "a true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world's perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded."
Now granted, Rev. Miller wasn’t dealing with COVID. But I am sure he had his own trials for his time. And as the world continues to deal with this pandemic, I choose to gather my own strength for what the future may hold. But knowing that my home can be the place to refresh, refuel gives me that strength.
Not all houses are perfect. Not all families are perfect. Not all situations are perfect. But home is what you make it.
And maybe even if it is only in your heart, that’s a good start.