The Downside of Fixer Upper

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"The downside of fixer upper" by Laura Range (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Kym Parry, Freeimages.com, CC0 Public Domain

I love a good home makeover, especially one done by Chip and Joanna Gaines of the popular show “Fixer Upper.” A few coats of fresh paint (farmhouse colors, of course!), some artfully arranged furniture, a bit of shiplap here and burlap there … and voila. Another house beautiful. It’s so satisfying to see the transformation.

There’s nothing wrong with redoing and redecorating our homes … there might even be some virtue in our efforts to make our home a place of beauty, comfort, and welcome. Perhaps there’s even a spiritual component to it: transforming something ordinary into something beautiful. A peaceful haven for our families and our friends. But sometimes that desire for beauty can become a little ugly.

Not too long ago I was looking around our home and noticing its imperfections. The chipped paint, the outdated colors, the worn furniture. I loved our home when we first moved in and kept house like Martha Stewart — but a few years and a few kids have changed things. There are generally baskets of laundry to be folded on my couch instead of throw pillows, toys on the crumb-filled floors instead of vacuum streaks, and chocolate or peanut butter fingerprints on the wall instead of scripted word art. As I looked around that day, dreaming of how Joanna would redesign my home, I started to feel discontentment creep in. I searched on Pinterest and found loads of inspiration … and lots of comparison. All of a sudden, the cozy home I loved became small, outdated, and not enough.

Isn’t that just how the devil works? Taking what starts as a simple (perhaps even holy) desire for beauty and order … and twisting it into an ungrateful, bitter, covetous resentment in my heart. The devil is clever in the way he tempts mothers. He knows and despises our sacrificial hearts, so instead of placing before us glaringly obvious temptations to “the big sins,” he often distorts and disorders our desires, and distracts us with the finite from the eternal. He urges us to strive for unattainable worldly perfection so that we will forget to focus on the Only One who is truly perfect, who is true goodness and beauty itself.

God knows we desire beauty in our homes. He gave us our unique ability as women to create a welcoming, beautiful place for those around us. But when that desire and that ability start to make us discontent, jealous, or distracted from our greater vocation of raising saints-in-the-making, we can guess the devil is at work.

We live in a challenging time where media (especially social media) allows us to compare our homes as never before. “Reality” (or is it reality??) home makeover shows like “Fixer Upper” are currently popular and Pinterest shows us thousands more options than magazines ever did for our own mothers. There’s a pressure to have our homes up-to-date and spotless … but that’s next to impossible raising children, especially in the little years.

So what’s a mom to do? The biggest (and sometimes hardest!) thing we need to do is focus on our heavenly home — Heaven — before our earthly homes. To pray for the grace to shape our own souls and those of our children before shaping our earthly homes. We are given such an immense gift and responsibility to lead our families to Heaven. Even though the clutter and mess in our homes can be so frustrating, none of it will matter someday. All that will matter is how we lived in our homes — not what they looked like.

Will you pray with me for the spirit of detachment, for the grace of contentment, for the fortitude to resist materialism and comparison? Let’s practice gratitude for all the Lord has given us, no matter how imperfect it may look next to the pins and Instagram posts. When we live out this vocation of marriage and motherhood gracefully, with a patient and surrendered spirit in the midst of daily (and often chaotic!) living, our homes become truly beautiful.

I still want to paint my rooms farmhouse colors someday. I still want to hang some hand-lettered pallet art on my walls. Yet when those desires start to cause discontent, comparison, and preoccupation from the more important things I’m putting them back in their rightful place. I’m realizing my home isn’t the biggest “fixer-upper” around here … my heart is.


Copyright 2018 Laura Range

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About Author

Laura Range is an RN-turned-SAHM living in rural Ohio. She is passionate about marriage and family life, redeeming the culture, the written word, and women with crisis pregnancies. She enjoys her babies, cooking (and eating) food, good books, new friends, little moments, and keeping it real. She blogs at Life is Beautiful.

2 Comments

  1. Laura, this is such a fantastic reflection. I think it’s especially easy to fall into home discontentment at this time of year, when everyone is getting their houses ready for the holiday season (and some people have a lot more style and decorating skills than myself!).

    • That’s a good point! Some of my favorite Christmas memories growing up were the “homey” (even tacky?) decorations my mom let us put around as kids– I’m glad she wasn’t worried about being Pinterest perfect! I definitely want to foster a sense of warmth and joy in my home for my kids rather than an “untouchable” perfection.

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