According to all those criteria, I do not live in a "real" house. But for me, a house is much more than its desirability in the real estate market of Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
I have my own set of criteria about what makes a house "real." Note that, according to the following points, a real house can be a rental or an apartment.
- A "real" house has people in it who are genuine and down to earth. Such a house is not a showpiece on its street. It is lived in, with not every shoe or book in its proper place. Its kitchen may not be large, but it is a place where people cook real food. It has a table where people eat together or play face-to-face games together. It may not have a playroom or rec room, but it has shared spaces open to children of all ages. It has enough storage space for the family's belongings so that no rented storage is needed.
- A "real" house makes room for guests. It has an extra bunk on a bunk bed for a friend to sleep over. It has an extendable table. It has a spare bedroom that can accommodate a family member who is just passing through or an acquaintance who becomes a boarder. When guests are welcomed, the house is fulfilling its purpose of giving shelter to those who need it and warmth in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Flowing from a real house are interesting memories of time spent with people who are different than we are.
- A "real" house is one where its occupants are content. When it was chosen to rent or buy, thought went into its location with respect to school, church and other amenities. It is not constantly being remodeled to achieve greater re-sale value. It is well-maintained and comfortable, but those who live there are not continually planning their next move. Its occupants know that in many other places in the world, houses are much more modest in size and decor.
Even with no garage, a small yard, a single living room dominated by a piano, I'm grateful for my "real" house. I'm looking forward to sharing this house with M, a young woman fleeing Iraq via Syria. When she arrives on July 6th, it is my prayer that as a family we can not only provide her with shelter but a place of comfort in a large and strange country.