I’m a writer of fiction of all kinds. I’ve been writing for years. And, one of the biggest things I have to decide when a character visits (from another world, time, or place) and starts telling me their story is: what perspective do I write this story from?
Perspective can make all the difference in the world. It can ruin a story. It can turn an otherwise poor story into a page turner. Indeed, perspective is one of the most powerful tools a writer has.
Some characters are more interesting in first person. We get to see everything they think. However, the downside is we never know what any other character is thinking. It’s a very narrow perspective and often leads the character (and the reader) to make false and incorrect assumptions about his/her life, other characters, and the story itself.
Third-person perspective steps back just a bit and as a reader we can see a little bit more of what all characters are thinking. This removes ambiguity but creates a little less of a relationship between the reader and the characters. The reader (and characters) is still too blind to make completely accurate assumptions about the story or the state of others.
Omniscient third-person perspective is my least favorite for story writing, but it is the best for real life. This tends to be more of narrator perspective. The suspense we feel is that we know more than the characters and we are waiting for them to figure out what we already know. A very effective perspective for some stories and often for fairy-tales and age groups who can’t handle as much suspense. This, also happens to be the perspective that God has—omniscient. It’s a perspective we can’t get except from God.
So, why all this talk about writing perspective? What does this have to do with making your home a heaven on earth? Well, making your home a heaven on earth is 80% perspective and 20% action (in my opinion).
Perspective2: is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
If you view your home with only a first-person perspective you will always make hasty conclusions about how heavenly your home is. If you view your home with a third-person perspective, trying to see more of what others are thinking, you’ll do a bit better. But, ultimately, you’ll still make incorrect conclusions about how heavenly your home is. But, if you learn to (and seek to) see your home as God sees it, your chances of having a heavenly home will increase exponentially.
First, let’s address toxic homes. They exist—far more than we’d like to admit. And, they cannot be treated the same as other homes.
Abraham 1:1, 16, 18
Abraham had a toxic home. His dad was an idol worshipper (who placed many things before God and family). His dad tried to have him sacrificed to Egyptian gods. We don’t know anything about Abraham’s mom. But, many people have one-parent homes. They tend to be either tight and loyal or horrific on many levels. But, it is apparent that Abraham was commanded by God to leave his father (and the Egyptians) so that he could make a heavenly home. His own community and home had become so toxic and corrupt that it was “needful” for him to obtain another place of residence.
From Abraham we learn that not all homes can be turned into heaven. Sometimes we must be led out to a home of promise that God helps us make as we keep His commandments.
Ruth (the whole book)
Ruth, we don’t know much about her Moabitish family. But, we know she married into a covenant Israel family, of which Naomi was a part. Then, by tragic circumstance all the males were killed (her husband, her brothers-in-law, and her father-in-law). Ruth, chose to make Naomi her family rather than go home to her blood family. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
What we do learn from Ruth is that our family, and our heavenly home, doesn’t have to be conventional or blood relations. She felt loyalty and love for Naomi. She made her home with Naomi. We too can create our heavenly home with those who love us (and they may not always be our blood relatives).
Joseph may have been a little self-righteous and annoying. But, he was essentially good and righteous. He was doted upon by his righteous (yet imperfect) parents. Yet, he was resented and hated by his brothers because he had lived righteous enough to inherit the birthright blessings which the few in front of him had forfeited by their sins and lack of repentance. In jealousy and hatred his brothers sold him into slavery. Not very heavenly.
We learn from Joseph that it’s not only our parents who can make our home toxic. Siblings can do that as well. Sometimes we ride it out. Sometimes we suffer at our siblings hands. From Joseph we learn that time, forgiveness, and mercy can often change the toxicity of sibling relationships. Life tempers us all. Sometimes we simply have to patiently wait.
There are numerous stories in the scriptures, and our own lives, that show that toxic homes cannot always be transformed. Addictions like anger, pornography, alcohol, and others cannot always be rectified in a reasonable amount of time. But, many homes can be saved by repentance, faith, love, and patience. The only way to know if your home can be saved is to seek the Lord’s will. But, be prepared to accept His answer and His guidance. He may tell you that your home can be saved. In which case you may be in store for a long, hard journey—that will end up in a heavenly result. If your home cannot be transformed, God will teach you what to do next.
The perspective we need, if our home is severely toxic, is God’s perspective. We need to know what He sees. We need to know if our heavenly home lies elsewhere or if we have a mission to save our currently, toxic home.
When I say regular, I don’t mean perfect. I simply mean to imply that, in general, these regular homes contain individuals who want to get along, be happy, and basically do what’s right. Sure, toxicity might enter from time to time in small ways (a short-temper, a bad day of constant fighting, etc.). But, regular homes weather these moments of toxicity and move on because the individuals in the home eventually self-regulate, seek repentance, forgive, try harder, and so forth.
So, remember we were talking about perspective. And, that it’s God’s perspective that we need in order to begin the process of making our home a heaven on earth.
How do you seek, and learn, to see your home as God does? An LDS Hymn (#2980 begins with the following line of lyrics:
Home can be a heav’n on earth when we are filled with love
The hymn also goes on to point out characteristics that make a home “like heaven:” warmth, kindness, charity, safety, and security. It continues on in the second and third verses to mention things that may help to create a heavenly home: drawing family near each week, serving with cheerful hearts, parents teach and lead by example, children honor and obey, praying daily as a family, searching scriptures as a family, and singing hymns of thanks. It ends each verse by mentioning how family members feel about the home: where we long to be, where we long to stay…
To me the first line is the one that matters most. Home can be a heaven on earth when we are filled with love. Others in our home don’t have to be what we want them to be in order for our home to be heavenly. We have to be loving in order for our home to be heavenly. We have to feel love. We have to see through the eyes of love. It is our perspective, the way we view our home and tell it’s story.
So, your home being a heaven is all about you. It’s your perspective that makes the difference and that has to change. It’s your actions despite your circumstances and hopes and wants that makes the difference. You can’t have a heavenly home if you see through eyes of disappointment, ingratitude, revenge, resentment, and anger. You can’t have a heavenly home if you focus only on what your home doesn’t have or what the people in it don’t do. You can’t have a heavenly home if the people who are supposed to want to be there don’t want to be there. Their feelings about your home reflect what it is.
…where we long to stay…
Conversely, you can have a heavenly home if you see through the eyes of encouragement, gratitude, forgiveness, appreciation, and joy. You can have a heavenly home if you focus on what your home does have and what the people in it do that’s good. You know you have a heavenly home if people long to be there, and to stay there. Whether you or the people who belong in your home are perfect, if they all “long to be there,” and “long to stay” there, then that speaks volumes!
Home and Heaven are Far More Than a Place
For me, my home is far more than a place. It’s the place, the feeling I get of loyalty, love, appreciation, tolerance, safety, and security. Those feelings are created by the people who are part of my home—my family. These include blood relations, in-laws, through-laws, adopted, and so forth.
My family includes people from all walks of life that simply belong with us. It just happens, you know. They come in the door and then, suddenly, they are ours. Admittedly, at first we are reluctant to accept some individuals based upon the circumstances that bring them into our home. But, then, they simply become ours. I don’t know how it happens, exactly, but I do know that it happens primarily because of our perspective.
At first we see these individuals one way. Then, as we bide our time and try to hold our tongues, we suddenly see their virtues, how they bless our lives (or the lives of family members), and then bam! We see them through the eyes of love. Our perspective changes.
I feel that I have a most excellent family full of amazing and excellent people. But, sometimes I don’t wonder if that’s because I’ve decided they are excellent or if they are truly excellent. Does the difference matter? I don’t think so.
What matters is how I see them. When I am filled with love then all these people suddenly become beautiful, angelic, strong, dedicated, resilient, talented, and so forth. I don’t see where they are in life as anything other than where they currently are. I appreciate how they support and tolerate me. I count it a privilege to pass through this mortal estate in their godly-assigned support group. What a blessing!
Home can be a heaven on earth when we are filled with love
So, you might ask: “How can I be filled with love when my family doesn’t respond to all the good I’m trying to do? How can I be filled with love when they treat me poorly? How can I see my home as a heaven when everyone grumbles during family prayer, family scripture study, and when I wake them up to go to church?”
I posted recently on “The Power to Become.” In summary, I learned that I can spend the rest of my life reacting to all that other people do, all that life throws at me, and my frustrations with God’s timing–in an attempt to create what I want or take control of what I want. Or, I can act how I want to act completely independent of those other factors. I can choose who I want to be, how I want to act, what I want to do, and how I will live and do those things no matter what else happens. By doing that I will become the person I want instead of a person who changes who they are based on what life throws at me.
It is the same with having your home be a heaven. It SERIOUSLY can be a heaven if you choose to focus on seeing your home with love, filling yourself with love, and acting with love. If you decide now that no matter how your spouse, children, or life acts that you will see with and act with love, then you have the power to create a heaven on earth. It’s your perspective that has to change. It’s you who has to “be love” so that your home is filled with it.
Do you realize what power you obtain when you act heavenly because that’s what you want to be instead of only acting heavenly if you feel heavenly, or if others are acting heavenly? You gain the power of control over your life and your home. You don’t change simply because others change. You simply are heavenly because that’s what you want to be. You see with love because that’s what you want to do—that’s who you are. Then, no matter what others do, you don’t react, in an attempt to change them. You only act in the attempt to be who you want to be.
Others may come and go in and out of your physical home or your family. But, you will always be in it. Make it a heaven by filling your life and your perspective of your home with love. Do this independent of the rest of the “story” and that perspective will write your story. Your home will be a heaven on earth.