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Is it a house or a home?

Steve Schiff,  stands near a window treatment in the dining room of his home.
Steve Schiff, stands near a window treatment in the dining room of his home.
(AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

The Grand Rapids housing market can be left to its own for a while.  It makes the average person get the feeling that something is really, really wrong with the whole system when the words "panic" "fear" slump" "crisis" and so forth become the stuff of the everyday life of the most uninterested person.

So instead,  think about making the most of the home one has. Simply ask this question, "What makes a house a home?" If one has been around Realtors, one will notice that there is a subtle distinction that is not often made obvious. A real estate salesperson is in the business of helping you to buy a house, but often it is referred to as buying a home. The emotional freight that is carried by the word home is far greater than the weight carried by the word house.

The reason for that is that a home is where a person find him or herself feeling comfortable. It is where the person resides. It is where an individual is most vulnerable to others and where people feel most open to interacting with others. Home is where a person has grown up.

On the contrary, a house is a building with wood, steel, vinyl, shingles, windows, and so forth all held together in a certain shape that is designed to give shelter from the elements. But it is only a shell that defines the space within which a person makes a home. The space will and often does shape the experience of home, but it remains only a shell that defines the boundaries of home.

The outer shell is important to many  because they need to have the shell in order to begin to find the mystical thing they can call home. Not many people can design a house. That is left to architects and builders who have learned the intricacies of defining space in certain ways. So each person works with that which someone else has previously designed in order to design their own home.

As an evangelical Christian, it is important to discern also that home is where one meets most often n with God. While worship in central location is the most public space for the divine encounter, home is where God meets a person most intimately. It is only when a person makes home a place for the meeting with God that the individual develops the sense of the sacred quality of the shell one calls home.


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