“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” — Proverbs 14:1
We spent the first nine months of our marriage in a tiny apartment saving up –we slept on the floor on a bunch of blankets to avoid spending money on a bed– and dreaming about a house. I think the most “homey” touch we added to that apartment were a few pictures on the walls, but we never really settled. New to the area, we drove around and inspected different corners of the community, visiting new friends for the chance to snoop on houses in their neighborhoods as much as the fellowship. We spent those months eagerly waiting for our home.
There are fond memories from our time in “The Apt,” like warm evenings when Aaron fished in the pond stocked with baby blue gills and an energetic Weimaraner from the neighborhood ran out of his yard to join me on country runs. (With country dirt roads, a gym at the complex, and few friends to distract us, we exercised a lot despite the eau de piglette near the farms.) We connected with our next-door neighbor and a few other residents we’re still friends with today, and I swiped the pumpkin from the main office door on Halloween when it was inappropriately defaced. (We still laugh about it today – not suitable for blogging content though!) I certainly wouldn’t miss paying for laundry, living on the third floor, buzzing guests in and out, neighbors who smoke out of their sliding glass door, or paying rent into a financial abyss, but the boring box apartment was a rite-of-passage and I stress-cried a lot the week we moved out.
Buying a new house meant adding in Lowes as a line-item on our budget; painting and repainting (I was young, it was our first time picking colors, and this was in the days before Pinterest, people!); searching for just the right accessories at Goodwill; sewing curtains; and spending every spare moment dreaming about or working on projects to improve our charming -though dated- mid-century bungalow. I poured a lot of grief into these projects through the years and most of our family visits involved more demolition than relaxation. Sometimes the enormity of the project felt overwhelming, but it has been a very rewarding endeavor.
And now that we’ve agreed to sell it soon, there is a funny paradox of completion – other than the absence of a crib in the back room, all the dreams have been realized! It’s as beautiful as I knew it could be. And yet, we have to think of this season as stewardship in a new way. It’s not really my home anymore. I’m a steward of this place for a new buyer, and I completed so many nit-picky projects of care to present the best vision of the home to complete strangers who traipsed through to judge it in hopes that they would make a high offer to purchase from us.
I think selling the first house is a rite-of-passage on it’s own, especially when I know the turnaround on another house will likely be faster and not as dramatic. It is good to know these efforts in building up my home have been the fruit of wisdom, and that God will give us the strength we need to build up the next place (though, likely, with less remodeling) while eagerly awaiting the final home He is building up that is not temporal or changing.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” -John 14:2-3