Just over two weeks ago, I turned off the lights for the last time and heard, in the deepest part of my heart, the finality in shutting the door for the last time to the empty house that we had built as our forever home. I was the last one there. The kids refused to come back to see it. They didn’t want their last memory of it to be an empty one. Phil was already in his loaded down car with the last trailer load of mismatched items that hadn’t made the earlier trips. It had been a sprint to the finish, emptying one house of love and memories and packing them with all of our other belongings to unload in a new place. On this last night as I drove away my heart was burdened.
Alone with my thoughts I needed a reminder of why we were doing this. It had gotten so lost in the exhaustion of actually doing of it. My prayer on this night was “Please God, don’t break our hearts over what we are leaving. Help us to hold onto your plan for adventure. Help us keep our eyes on You in all of this. I am still not sure any of this makes any sense.”
Rewind. October. “I know it doesn’t make sense but I want to do more with less. I can’t explain it but I feel like it’s time. Let’s just pray about it and see where it leads.” This is where all of this mess started, a growing discontentment in “comfortable” and a struggle over apathy and a fear of stepping out and, ultimately, of change. For months we had been having conversations that found their base in this struggle. We wanted to follow God but when faced with the real task of making big, scary, life-changing decisions we stalled out out. It was a vicious tail chasing cycle of safe vs faithful in our decision making and we were paralyzed in it. We had a very nice, status-quo life thing going on that made absolutely no sense to walk away from. We were settled. We were comfortable and it was nice. But God…
We finally looked at a house we had been eyeing up for awhile. It was around the corner from my parents and had been on the market for 6 years. A house that was extremely overpriced and in need of a good deal of work. We saw the vision, caught the excitement of a “project house” and put the For Sale sign in front of our own home to follow this path that we believed God was leading us down. We were all on board. We took a contractor to our new “dream home” to get a project list together and prepare our offer. All signs pointed to yes, this was the right move…until suddenly they didn’t anymore. The same night we took the contractor through the owners accepted an offer. The offer was not ours. Six years this house had sat on the market, unwanted, and then it sold right out from under our noses! We were finally taking some action and the door was slammed in our faces.
I was so angry! I swore if one person told me that “it just wasn’t meant to be” I was going to scream because I was convinced this was right. (Translation, I was convinced I was right.) I was so tired of trying to follow God only to have an open door slammed in the 9th hour. It had happened over and over and over in the last couple of months. Pray and listen and step out in faith and follow and WHAM! My head knew the truth. My heart was tired of feeling it. Disappointment is really a crappy feeling, isn’t it? I just wanted to be mad for awhile, to wallow in my frustration. So I did…and I was miserable. Eventually The Truth penetrated the spiny shell that I had put up and because I had no other choice I let go of my Cape Cod Fixer-Upper dream.
Side Note: This is real life and yes, I was pretty snarky about it. Here, you will get the unvarnished truth. You get authenticity and you get the real me and sometimes it’s nasty and ugly and I am not proud of it. But these are the places we grow and if we pretend that they don’t exist, if we pretend that we don’t struggle, then what’s the point? If that’s the case I am just spinning a fairy tale.
So, with our house on the market we looked at each other and said “Now what?” The short answer was we had no idea and not a lot of hope that our house would sell quickly so “we would cross that bridge when we got there.”
Fast Forward. On this night as I was driving away from our old life God answered my prayer as I remembered this.
“The doors God opens are like this: unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.” Gerald Hawthorne
Looking back I feel like we were living in gray and these words made life come alive off the page to me. This is what I think it must feel like to live in color. Doing something worthwhile…living an adventure of significance…having a life that counts for eternity! This is what I wanted. This is why we did it. But in the moment, months ago, what we were doing made no sense and in the following weeks it was going to get even muddier.
To Be Continued…