Week Four: Always Orange in the Living Room
Climb out of the basement, readers. We are back on the main floor this week for part four in the series Always Orange at Home. So far, we have spent time in the kitchen, the dining room, the basement, and this week we will spend some time in the living room.
When I am not in the kitchen preparing a meal or cleaning up after one or upstairs sleeping in my bed, the next likely place you would find me in my home is the living room. My living room is not a place set apart from the rest of the house, filled with formal furniture and artfully arranged accessories. No, this is a space that sees high traffic every day. Whether you enter my house from the front or the back door, you immediately come into the living room.
Part of the appeal of this room is that it doesn’t compete with the television. Fortunately, we also have a family room. This means that the living room is perfect for spending time with a friend or hosting a gathering, while still allowing a place for others to hang out for movie watching or Xbox playing.
Most mornings of the week you can find me curled up on either the loveseat or the sofa, coffee mug in hand, beginning the day in the Word. Aside from the crickets chirping or the bird calls at the feeder, the quietness of this space is a balm to my soul.
My writing desk is also in the living room. My desk faces the bamboo forest outside my window. The occasional squirrel scampers by. A stray cat wanders through the foliage. Sometimes a tennis ball flies over the fence. Lucy can usually be found sitting in front of the slider door that opens onto our deck. It is idyllic in many respects.
However, lest you think my living room is only filled with sweetness and light, let me show you another picture too. Some mornings, while sitting with my coffee mug, my heart is heavy and my spirit burdened by the troubles and cares that surround me. It is all I can do but to utter, “Help, God.” I worry about my children and the decisions they make. I pray that my husband will have the strength to finish his dissertation. I wonder if my book project will ever be more than that—a project. I am overwhelmed by the suffering of so many around the world.
In those moments, I don’t see the gray squirrel. I don’t hear the cardinal. I don’t think kind thoughts about the stray cat meandering through my front yard. Instead, I find myself spiraling into discouragement and self-pity. These moments are also part of my living room experience.
Each year I read aloud the book The Wednesday Wars to my seventh graders. I love this book for many reasons, which I will save for another post. Holling, the main character, describes his living room (tongue-in-cheek) as the “perfect living room.” Plastic-covered furniture and plastic flowers fill the room, along with a grand piano that no one in the family plays. The setting for the book is the late 1960s so the description fits the plastic-loving decorating rage of that era. What mattered most, particularly to Holling’s father, was the appearance of a perfectly decorated living room. In one scene, something significant happens there, shattering the illusion of perfection.
I don’t have any illusions of perfection about my living room. Instead, I cling to the Lord’s promise, on the good days and the bad days, that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)
Whether you have a living room, a combined living room/family room, or a nook with a chair, may the promise of God’s mercies be yours this week.