He Who Dwells, Julie True
Hygge. Noun, A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture (Oxford Languages).
Pronounced hoo-guh, this cozy little word conjures up images of candles and a cup of tea, a hearthside fire, and the aroma of freshly baked bread, dwelling in an abode. Abiding. In all honesty, these are the feelings I have when I think about the home I grew up in. One memory I have is hopping off the school bus on Valentines Day and plowing through the front door of our farmhouse to the welcome sight of a plate-sized heart-shaped cookie! This is what I want my children to come home to and bring their friends to, from friendly clamours of laughter, to the clumsy attempts of asking forgiveness and figuring out life and relationships, both within the family and without. It’s figuring life’s idiosyncrasies out together.
When I have an errand or appointment and leave the kids with a list of expectations, such as completion of homework or practicing their instruments, or folding a basket of clothes, I ultimately want what they do to be together, with each other. Play a game together. Be together. Don’t isolate. Create memories of being together, fill this home with togetherness, and be blessed. When there is conflict, work out resolution together; work out what forgiveness is supposed to look like, as long as it is together. Abide with one another. This is hygge.
Hygge is like the working of the Word of God into our Spirit and meditating on it. As I’m washing dishes, I make it my altar wherein I can pray over a situation I’m concerned about; when I’m folding a basket of clothes, I can pray protection over each member of my family; when I trip over the incessant mound of shoes in our entryway, I can pause and bless this season I am in with all its hustle and bustle; when we are clearing the table after mealtime, we can sing or review Bible memory verses and hide His Word in our hearts. Isn’t this what it means in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, when we are exhorted to “commit yourselves wholeheartedly…repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up”? We don’t have to wait until all our to-do list is done to lean into the Word of God, but it is the very Word of God abiding in us that enable us to live with hygge.
Francois de la Mothe-Fenelon was a French Catholic archbishop who lived circa 1650. He capitalizes on this theme, and his timeless words are as applicable today as they were 350 ago: We seek God afar off, in projects perhaps altogether unattainable, and we do not consider that we possess Him now in the midst of the confusion, by the exercise of simply faith, provided we bear humbly and bravely the annoyances which comes from others, and our own imperfections.
“Provided we bear humbly and bravely the annoyances which come from others.” Spot on, Father Francois!
“When we take what we hear and meditate on it, allowing it to train our thinking, our affections, and our behavior, it becomes an abiding word in us. The abiding Word creates a reality in our lives that resonates with the voice of the Spirit, enabling us to perceive it when it comes,” Strengthen Yourself in the Lord, p.101 (Bill Johnson).