Five years and a few months ago, we decided to test the waters of the housing market. We hadn’t planned to start looking for our first home until a year later – once Pete was back on shore duty for a bit and circumstances made a little more sense – but our rental situation wasn’t ideal and the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit was ending soon so we decided to start the process. We agreed we wouldn’t force anything to happen, but if God opened doors, we’d gladly walk through them.
At the end of the third day of property perusing, we pulled into one last driveway and were pretty sure it would only take the 5-10 minutes of remaining daylight to mark this place off the list. The night before, I edited our list of houses to check out based on what we had already seen. We realized we didn’t like certain styles of homes, even if they had been recently updated and had most of the other wants/needs on our list. This particular property almost got cut: ‘bank owned’, ‘foreclosure’, ‘as is’, built in 1950, square footage and lot size that didn’t make sense based on the price…and it wasn’t our favorite style. But for some reason, I kept it.
This house definitely didn’t make a great first impression in person either. It would be the example for ‘curb appeal to make sure you don’t sell your house’. The old rusty chain link fence was falling apart and even missing in some areas. The landscaping was severely lacking aside from a few daffodils that attempted to give the scene a glimmer of hope. Aside from the fact the house was black and white and had a yard size that was rare for our price point, we were not feeling the warm fuzzies – until we walked in the front door and realized we had found home.
The inside wasn’t anything to make it into the latest edition of ‘best house on the block’ magazine either, but we immediately fell in love with its character. We saw its potential. It’s quirky layout spoke to our own unconventional personalities. It just fit.
If you walked through our front door now, you probably wouldn’t guess that we’ve lived here for five years already. There’s so much that still needs to be done. Our front room has a bunch of stuff waiting to be organized and put away and/or donated. There are paint swatches on the living room wall from 5 years ago and other painting that needs to be finished. Our walls aren’t covered in pictures. The place isn’t creatively designed. The yard still needs work and the paint on the front door is still peeling.
If you walked through our front door now, you might think we’re pack rats, or lazy, or careless slobs. On the surface, there’s still a whole lot of hot mess of crazy going on. But what you can’t see is all that has gone on behind the scenes and beneath the surface over the years.
Although my hubby and I know where we’ve come from and what we’ve dealt with, the outside world doesn’t. The condition of our house has been a source of shame and frustration. We’ve been hesitant to invite anyone over or if we do, there’s always the feeling of obligation to explain why things are the way they are. To give reasons why our circumstances don’t measure up to what is considered the norm.
“Hi, thanks for coming over! Excuse the mess…We bought the house when Pete was stationed on a really busy ship and he wasn’t around much for the first couple years…We’ve had to replace duct work and insulation and ceilings (twice) and that’s why we haven’t been able to spend money on the pretty stuff…We moved our things 9 times in the first 6 years of our marriage and Erin was really sick during many of those moves so our stuff just got thrown in miscellaneous boxes and we’re still digging out of it…We chose to make our marriage and other people a priority so that’s why we’re not farther along…We chose to spend quality time reconnecting with each other after years of separation due to the Navy instead of working on house projects”…and the list of reasons go on.
When I walk through the front door of our house, I see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve actually accomplished. However, if I walk into the front door of our house and view it through the eyes of someone coming here for the first time it can become overwhelming and discouraging. ‘We’ve worked so hard and done so much but there is still so much to do. It still doesn’t look that great!’ are the thoughts that have kept us from wanting to let others in. They’ve kept us from entertaining and doing what we love to do: love on people.
Maybe you can take out ‘house’ and insert you own circumstances. Maybe you’re dealing with relationship struggles or childhood trauma or chronic illness. Maybe you have been hesitant to let people in because although you know what you’ve been through and what you’ve come from, you still don’t feel as though your life is ‘pretty’ or what others would choose to be around. HEAR THIS: You still have value.
Hubs and I decided to stop allowing our circumstances to interfere with our heart for people. It’s not perfect, but we’re giving what we have to God and are allowing Him to use it. We’ve had friends come over and even stay overnight here, and none of them have run out of the house screaming from disgust while vowing never to return. Instead, most if not all of them have expressed how much they enjoyed being here and how it felt like ‘home’.
You are just as capable to be used in others’ lives, regardless of how inferior you may feel.
Have some of those people walked in and thought ‘yikes this place is a disaster’? Quite possible and probable…I’ve thought and said words like that myself. 😉 But at the end of the day, who really cares? Yes we want to see people happy. Yes I want my house to be put together so friends and acquaintances can come escape the chaos of their own lives and feel relaxed. But until we get to that point, I am who I am and I’m gonna do the best I can with what I have…and I encourage you to do the same!
Let’s choose to celebrate our victories, big or small, and create an environment for others to celebrate theirs without fear of judgement or shame! Let’s stop allowing the things that really won’t matter in eternity get in the way of the things that will. Let’s essentially get over ourselves and say ‘here I am God, use me’ and allow Him to use our five small loaves and two small fish to feed the multitudes.
Here’s a virtual high five for living another day and simply being you. <3