Through this whole process, Mike and I have been discussing whether or not we should sell our home. This might seem like a no-brainer to many of you, but it’s actually quite a complicated decision. If we sell, we have nowhere to return to when we are in the states, which means living out of suitcases. It also means getting rid of most of our things since we won’t be able to take them with us. If we decide to keep our home, it would mean finding renters and having to manage all of that from out of the country. Not an easy decision. So many factors to consider and implications either way. But after a very difficult discussion in which my husband laid down some hard truths, I believe we’ve reached a conclusion. Sell.
It’s not that I’m really materialistic and care about owning a house. Or even about getting rid of lots of our stuff. I’ve been disgusted with how much “stuff” we own anyway, especially when you look at the way the majority of the world lives. I long for a simpler less cluttered life. It’s just this house…it’s our home. Our HOME. That word just means so much to me.
I’ve never really had a place I’d call home. Growing up, I lived in an apartment from the age of four until thirteen. Before then, we lived in other apartments and in my grandmother’s basement. When we moved at 13, it was back to my grandmother’s briefly and then on to two other rented homes before I moved out at 17 into my grandmother’s house. After that, it was a college dorm room, and then a brief time living with Mike’s parents, followed by an even briefer time spent on a cot in my parent’s house, and then Mike’s aunt’s basement in between college semesters. When I read that, the only word that keeps coming to mind is: temporary. Every situation was temporary, and impersonal. It didn’t belong to me and never would. I was just passing through.
We’ve been married for 15 ½ years, and this is the first place that has been ours. We started out in an apartment in Beaver Falls, PA, moved to a church parsonage in Monaca, PA, then to a rental home in Dundalk, MD. We purchased our first house in the fall of 1999 in Dundalk, but that house never became “ours” as it was filled with other people’s hand-me-down things. We never even painted the all-white walls because I was always pregnant in that house. Please don’t misunderstand…I’m not ungrateful. We were always blessed beyond what we deserved, and we were quite thankful for the things others passed on to us because we couldn’t afford new things of our own. And we made the best of it. We then moved to a rental home in Florida, and then an apartment here in South Carolina before we finally settled into this house, our HOME, in the fall of 2007.
When we bought this little house next to our church, we just knew it was the right place for us. The wooded yard and deck reminded us of a special vacation we had taken to the Highlands in North Carolina, and when we pulled into the driveway, it felt right. We knew we were home. Our little piece of the earth that God had carved out for us to care for and enjoy. Over the last almost five years, we’ve managed to be able to truly express ourselves for the first time in our home. We painted rooms, and decorated walls, and for the first time ever, purchased furniture. We dreamed big dreams about how we’d spend forever in this house, even imagining myself baking cookies with my grandkids in my kitchen. (It’s just such a “grandma” kitchen and I’ve always loved it.)
Now, I must begin the long and painful process of saying goodbye to it all. And letting go of all of those big dreams is just not that easy. It hurts me somewhere deep within that I can’t quite fully explain. But it’s not just letting go of the dreams that hurts. It’s the comfort and security of having a home that I never had, and realizing I might not ever have again. Knowing that we’re moving, but not knowing if we’ll ever return. And even if we do return, we don’t know where God will take us next. It’s a lot of “not knowing”.
I guess I wasn’t quite ready to give all of that up yet. And it hit me hard this weekend as my husband and I discussed it. It’s been so wonderful having a home to call our own for the last five years. It’s been so comforting to come home to the safety and security of these walls, to this haven where it’s ok to be yourself no matter what that self looks like at the time. When the world has done us wrong, we could come home and feel loved again. And the truth is that those feelings don’t come from fresh coats of paint on the wall, or brightly colored new sofas, or remodeled bathrooms. They come from the people who live within the walls of that house. My HOME is my family, and we dwell in the palm of our Savior’s hand. That gives me comfort and security beyond anything this world has to offer.