I believe in living simply. I love our quaint, small house because I am able to stay home with our girls. It feels like home. It is cozy and warm. It calms my spirit.
But I am embarrassed. Most of our friends live in newer--see 'brand new'-- homes that are two to three times the size of ours. The main areas of their homes look like pictures from a magazine. Ours looks, well, lived it. The walls and trim need painted. The kitchen is a little cluttered and we need new floors throughout the house, well, desperately. I have always been ashamed of our house, felt "less than" because our house doesn't look like those of pretty much everyone we know.
Some friends of ours stopped by recently--the first time they had been to our house--and I found myself trying to make excuses, embarrassed at how small our house was, how much worked needed to be done on it, how "lived-in" it looks. I wanted them to see us as being "just like them," yet there we were, naked and exposing the truth. I spent much of the evening assuring myself that our house is a "work in progress" and that they wouldn't stop liking me because they know that I live differently than them.
And then it hit me. Isn't that the point? Instead of trying to appear to be "just like everyone else," I should be proud of being different. We can not be salt and light to the earth if our lives mirror those of everyone else.
We bought an older, smaller home so that I could stay home with our children. My kitchen is slightly cluttered, because I love cook and bake for my family. Our garage floor is littered with tools and debris from a small renovation project that we are finishing up--and did ourselves, by the way. Our back yard is dotted with children's toys and a small garden sits in the back.
The goal isn't to show people that you can live out Catholic values and still look like everyone else. The goal is to be an example of a better way, a way that if full of joy, personal growth and fulfillment and peace; a way that brings a family closer together, and closer to God; a way that looks different from society's "perfect picture." That's the point. The simple life--the Catholic life--looks different than society's ideal.
That is part of its beauty.
I realized that it is not enough to live out this lifestyle in secret, pretending to be just like everyone else, hiding my lamp under a barrel. To really change people's hearts, to be an example, requires the courage to let people see that we are different and let that light shine bright for all to see.