Are you working at home this year? Or … working from home?
It’s more than just a question of semantics. How we think about this can have a lasting impact on our productivity and performance. We’re used to thinking of home as a physical place, the address where we live. But have you ever thought about home as a genuine spiritual power?
The current pandemic has launched a reevaluation of workplace norms and expectations as stay-at-home orders have moved workplaces out of offices and shops, and into living rooms and basements. The mental and physical walls separating home from work are being erased. Patience, flexibility, and family ties are being strained.
So, if we have joined the ranks of those trying to balance the dynamic of doing our jobs online from home with having a meaningful home and family life, where can we turn for guidance?
I find the best answers come from prayer and spiritualizing my sense of home as something much more than just a physical address separate from the workplace.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, offers an insight that’s been incredibly helpful to me in this respect. At one time, according to the recollection of one of her students, she told the members of her household: “Home is not a place but a power. We find home when we arrive at the full understanding of God” (Irving C. Tomlinson, “Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy,” Amplified Edition, p. 211).
That can feel like a really challenging concept, especially if you’ve lived in the same place for some time. Plus, current social conditions are testing the concept of home from another angle, sometimes making it seem like a confining, unsettled place. And on top of that is the thought that we can lose our home – that it can be threatened or taken from us because of economic uncertainty.
Yet the Bible has a different message. Psalm 91, for instance, assures us that we dwell “in the secret place of the most High,” and because that’s our address, we don’t need to “be afraid.” The Apostle Paul confidently wrote, “If our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 5:1, New King James Version).
This points to our true abode, our eternal, spiritual place of belonging, at home in divine Love, or God. As we truly accept and appreciate the overarching presence and peace of God’s love for each one of us, everywhere, we begin to experience more harmony and balance in our daily lives.
In architecture, three elements are considered necessary for a well-designed building: firmness or structural integrity, usefulness or efficiency, and beauty or aesthetic appeal. Integrity, purpose, and beauty are qualities of God – spiritual attributes that God expresses in each one of us as His children.
Thinking about my home from this spiritual standpoint of God’s power and peace has helped me more effectively work in my home office each day. Specifically, it has provided a strong counterpoint to instability, imbalance, inefficiency, limitation, and even the literal clutter of disorganization, that has enabled me to overcome such difficulties.
Acknowledging home as a true spiritual power has enabled me to stand against the erosive notion of both home and work as somehow being in competition with each other. They are actually complementary, because their foundational qualities – such as integrity, strength, and efficiency – stand shoulder to shoulder in unity, rather than head to head in conflict with dueling agendas.
A phrase that’s frequently mentioned today regarding design is “style plus substance.” Something that looks beautiful on the surface but has no practicality or durability, no firmness or utility, is bound to fade quickly. And something that is helpful, solid, and has firmness and utility but lacks grace or beauty often feels cold and can quickly lose its appeal.
In its highest sense, home has both beauty and substance. It is so much more than four walls and their furnishings. So is our workplace. We cannot understand the real meaning of either if we stop at the outward appearance or physical address. Take away love, purpose, and foundation, and both can feel hollow, superficial.
But where the qualities of affection, hospitality, respect, and integrity are lived, that is the heart of both home and workspace as mutually supportive forces for good. And this blesses not only those within their walls (even when they’re the same walls), but ripples outward, too.