The timing seemed impossibly wrong. Who decides 3 days before Christmas to put their house on the market? Instead of sitting by the tree listening to Christmas music in our pajamas, my husband and I packed boxes, and cleaned out closets Christmas afternoon. We prepared rooms for painting and began the necessary repair work before listing our house on the market.
By January 3rd we’d met again with the Realestate agent and begun the process of marketing our home. Just two weeks prior, friends had asked me if we were serious about moving. Indeed we were. To those outside, the decision seemed sudden, but we’d been talking about it for a long time–for years, actually.
Every night as I stepped over painting tarps and boxes, piles of trash and various items cleaned out from the corners of the house, I flopped into bed exhausted, heavy with a mounting anxiety. We kept moving forward with the process but the restlessness in my spirit drained the joy and hope from my heart. Doubt can feel like a black thunder cloud that follows only you around. The mounting “what-if’s” left my stomach churning.
What if the house doesn’t sell?
What if we can’t find a new house?
What if we can’t get a decent offer on this house?
What if we have to live in limbo for months on end?
What if we sell our house and can’t get financing?
What if interest rates rise too high during this process?
What if we move and end up wishing we’d stayed put?
These doubts are only a tiny fraction of the fears that tormented me when my head hit the pillow.
Every question felt like an impossible mountain to overcome. Instead of seeing these concerns as opportunities to watch God work, I saw them as obstacles we could not overcome. I wanted to believe that God had the whole mess in His hands, but my hope stretched like a gossamer thread across a canyon of doubt. Every weighty decision stretched me further than was comfortable. So desperately frail. I could not perceive with eyes of faith, what God could and would do.
I don’t believe that we deserve to have nice things. If I choose to believe that all that I have is a gift from God, then I am reminded that I don’t deserve it–I receive it purely out of His good grace and kindness. Everything is a blessing.
I reminded myself daily that God doesn’t always answer our material prayers with material things. He gives what He sees fit, what He knows we need, what is best–despite the truth that sometimes His answers are painfully received on our end. He always gives what is best.
The afternoon we first stumbled into our surprise home we were not prepared for the emotional ride it would turn out to be. Buying and selling homes is no joke. It’s complicated by layers of conversations about needs vs. wants, location issues, financial decisions, zoning laws, home owners association rates, traffic patterns, accessibility and on and on and on. Almost every decision requires hard conversations and even more prayer. We knew we wanted to use our new home for practicing hospitality, but what would that look like?
I instantly loved the way the light cascaded down onto the floors and warmed the walls. This house had space that we’d been craving, after years of being on top of each other in a house that seemed to shrink with each additional baby we’d brought home to it over the last 11 years. The neighborhood offered the small, quiet respite we’d been wanting. We’d grown so weary of living on a busy road, watching careless drivers tear past our home at dangerous speeds.
Walking through the surprise house I fought the urge to like it. Oh I loved it, but I didn’t want to. I was afraid to want it.
Later that evening my husband and I discussed it, dreamed a little about it, and then decided to keep looking. It didn’t seem it would ever be a viable option. But from then on, every house paled in comparison. Still, I could not let myself love that house. I didn’t think I could bear the disappointment of not being able to call it home.
The next several weeks were a roller-coaster of multiple offers on our own home, hopes rising with potential, only to ride the downward spiral of deal disintegration, as potential deals fell apart in negotiations. I fought to steel my heart against the emotional tumult. Hope was not my friend. Rather than waiting and trusting God to direct our steps, I imagined Him as a grumpy Father, too tired at the end of the day to embrace his children, to hear their heart-needs, who sends them away with a wave of His hand. I imagined that we were a nuisance to God.
I forgot how much He loves us.
More than the house issues, it surfaced that I have bigger issues that need addressing, heart issues with how I see God, how I view hope, the ways in which I wrestle with desire and fulfillment and receiving from God.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? (Matthew 7:9-10)
Even as the pieces began to fall into place I continued to doubt God’s gifting. I couched every conversation about the house in doubtful language, a lame effort to protect my hopes from rising. “I won’t believe it until we have keys in our hands”, I said on more than one occasion. To be fair, there had arisen several hiccups along the way, each one making the potential of the sale seem precarious. These hiccups were opportunities to practice our faith, to be stretched, to lean into hope. Instead, I leaned away, I doubted. I refused to believe without proof.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 9:11)
I repeatedly reminded myself that what we wanted may not be what God wants for us. God, in His omniscience and love has repeatedly withheld things from me that I thought were best. In time, He has graciously revealed His best, which always makes my own desires seem so narrow and flimsy. I have tasted the goodness of His fruit and forgotten the sweetness of it time and again. I told myself, the ache for this new home could be just like that.
Five weeks later we found ourselves at the closing table, signing the papers on our new home–the surprise house that had never been on our list of houses to see in the first place. God looked me square in my doubting face and handed me what I do not deserve, and did not believe I could have.
A month in, and I walk around in here completely humbled and in awe of God’s goodness. I am acutely aware of the ways in which I disparage His faithfulness with my continual doubt, the ways in which I assign Him characteristics that look more like me rather than believe that He is without the stains that mar my own soul. Where I doubt, He is faithful. Where I fear, He loves. Where I imagine Him to be small and incapable, He overcomes with His Holiness that cannot be contained or understood.
He did not have to bless us with this home. I am daily aware of this. He could have orchestrated something entirely different. Heaven knows I don’t “deserve” this space. I diminished His offerings at every turn. I looked for the storm brewing behind every small hope He provided along the way.
As I sit here, I am reminded that God is not as small as I chronically frame Him to be. I am reminded that He loves to give good gifts to His children, and that our desires for a new place for our family were not born out of selfish ambitions, but out of a growing urge to practice hospitality, to open our doors and make space for others–an urge that He has set in our hearts.
I am reminded that when God calls you, He also equips you. This generous space is part of that equipping. This is not our space, but God’s to use as He pleases.
The first neighbor we met told us that she’d been praying for the people who would buy this house. She’d been praying for us. The last month has been filled with breadcrumbs of God’s faithfulness unbeknownst to us. Daily we stumble onto pieces of the trail that brought us here.
I don’t know what you’re hoping for right now, friend, but I can assure you that God is moving in ways you cannot see. I can testify to His faithfulness in spite of your faithlessness. I can encourage you, that if he has given you a vision for something, a dream for something that seems impossible, that He will also bring it to fruition in due season. It feels bold to say this, but I have seen it countless times in my own life. God has never failed me. Not ever. He is the willing Father who never tires, who never needs time away from His needy children, the generous Father who delights in giving his children the desires of their heart–and the Father who puts His desires in us, that we might glorify Him with the goodness He provides. You can believe that however He provides and withholds, it is for the absolute best.
This space is an altar. Here we will continually surrender all that we are, for the sake of His glory.
*I’m taking the next few weeks off of social media as I lean into listen for God, and complete a project, as such I may be slow to reply to comments. I love hearing from you and am so grateful for your prayers and encouragement. Thank you for reading.