It was never part of our plan to move into that house. It sat on the market with little interest for an extended time, an empty shell that mirrored the grief we all felt every time we walked in, no longer greeted by my grandparents whom we loved so dearly. They had both passed away in recent years, and I was not ready to lose them, but I would never have been. It was a stone house next to the antique store in a small and wonderfully quaint village where the town siren goes off every night at six o'clock. My grandparents raised a tribe of strong daughters and gathered generations that followed under that roof, creating a lifetime of memories now stored in my heart.
Our move was an urgent one on New Year's day and went something like this. Our dog had gotten sick a few times over two days, a clue to something being amiss, and we were unaware. Thankfully, our furnace had also gone out the night before, so we called a heating and cooling company that came and discovered carbon monoxide that was leaking at a level that registered higher than their detector could read. The furnace was severely outdated and was repeatedly rigged to avoid having to replace it, all unbeknownst to our puking dog and us. Happy New Year.
So there we landed, in my grandparent's home on January 1st and discussions began to happen of buying the house from my family, to renovate it and then try to sell it after some much needed TLC.
It took us about a year and a half to renovate that home so near to my heart. I say "us," meaning that my contributions consisted of picking flooring and wall colors and promising to try and be patient with the working areas we were simultaneously living in. I often failed by the way. Living in a construction zone is a hot mess, and far from easy, just in case you should ever decide to try it. Consider yourself forewarned.
Four months into the project and one warm day in Spring, I was on a walk when I began to have this feeling that more rebuilding was taking place than just the house. I realized there was also a deep inner work happening inside of me.
Beneath the outer landscape of my life that others could see, my heart was like what I saw daily in that house. A mix of so many beautiful memories tangled with demolition and wreckage and dust for days. I didn't realize at the time how much I needed the construction. Or how much I needed to return to a place that symbolized safety and nurturing as God healed me and rebuilt me and prepared me for the season that was ahead.
Here's what we so often forget in our hastiness. The in-between places are more necessary than we will ever fully know.
When the Israelites were delivered from captivity in Egypt after four hundred and thirty-something oppressive years, they set out on what should have been an eleven-day journey to the place that God had promised to take them. But that eleven-day journey ended up taking forty painstaking years.
In Exodus 13, it says that God did not lead them by the shorter route, but that He took them the long way around.
They were being led the whole time. Led out of mindsets that held them captive in the free world. Led out of distrust in the God who holds all the pieces of their broken past and unknown future. I heard someone say once that God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but then had to deliver Egypt out of the Israelites.
They weren't lost or wandering as they thought and felt. They were being led. It was an essential time of preparation.
As the story would unfold, we eventually sold that house. It was a bit of a nightmare process, or so it seemed at the time. There was a near sale that fell through. A zoning issue that threatened to cost more money and the loss of another potential buyer. A move out of the house and a move back in because it sat for too long once again. In the waiting, we felt desperate to move forward. We would drive through the neighborhood we loved and daydreamed about the home we would eventually buy with the profit.
We began to question if we made the right decision to take on the project. Would the money invested be returned? Would it be a total loss? Would we ever be able to return to the city where we longed to be?
So here's the surprising part, on that long-awaited day when we sat around a long table across from the buyer, my heart didn't show up the way I thought it would. Not in the least. I didn't feel celebratory. My heart matched the weather outside, overcast, and weepy.
During seasons of prolonged waiting and trial, it is easy to long for the future when your waiting is over, and you will be "living the dream." I've been there. I get it. But here's what you will miss if you buy into that belief.
You're living the dream the whole time.
I was being led, even though it felt messy and complicated and beyond my ability to handle. Through that unwanted and emergent move and renovation process, I was brought home in every sense of the word. Home to healing and restoration. Home to building new memories with my children after so much pain. Home to the celebration of my daughter's first birthday, her name being Hebrew and which means, "God has answered."
And He has in so many ways. Don't miss the dream you're living right now while waiting for some future destination you are hoping for. You are a dream birthed in the mind of God. You are living the dream.