They say home is where the heart is…but I have learned that home is where God says it is. And when I get my heart where God wants it to be, then home becomes where my heart is.
This is the story of how my family found our way home, and on the way, learned a lot about our human hearts.
Last year, Chris and I decided it was time to sell our home. We’d lived there for 8 years. We had brought our two boys through babyhood, toddlerhood, preschool, and early school years in this home, but we began to feel a stirring that it was time to move on.
I’m not a huge fan of change. I was way more reluctant than my husband in our search for a new home. He showed me houses all the time, and I would get an initial rush of excitement that was quickly washed away by my need for things to stay the same. We already had a perfectly good home. Why couldn’t we just stay here?
But that stirring was there. It was there. God was telling us that He wanted us to move. I prayed and brought my fears before the Lord.
What if the boys didn’t want to move?
What if we got homesick?
What if we couldn’t sell our house?
What I heard the Lord saying to me was that it was time to move. He didn’t answer each of my specific questions, but He did tell me to move.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
We officially put our house on the market on a Thursday, and we had an offer the next Tuesday.
Okay, Lord. We’ll move.
So that’s it, right? We found our new home and lived happily ever after, right? Well, not exactly.
You see, we did find The House. A dream house. This beauty had all of the storage, all of the rooms, and the garages (yes, that’s plural) that we dreamed of. It had a picturesque yard, wonderful–WONDERFUL neighbors, and a kitchen that would make any lady swoon with it’s beauty. And it had a pool. A pool, ya’ll. And it became the very home I had to have for my family.
Like clockwork (well, maybe a rickety old clock…we were dealing in real estate, you know), we moved out of the house of our boys’ babyhood and moved into The House. It was right before Thanksgiving, and I envisioned lovely holiday gatherings in The House. My family would ooh and aah (and the ladies would swoon in the kitchen), and later my friends would plan swim parties for the summer (and the ladies would swoon in the kitchen), and my living room would always be clean of toys and shoes and papers because there was so much storage. I would spend all my time swooning over the kitchen instead of having to clean it; The House would always be perfect, and it would bring happiness and security to me.
Of course, it only took a day, or maybe even less, for me to realize that the reality of The House fell very short of my expectations. I didn’t invite family and friends over because I was too busy unpacking and cleaning, and unpacking and cleaning, and unpacking and cleaning. I seemed to quickly fill up any available storage space with toys, shoes, and papers, and then miraculously found more toys, shoes, and papers with no place to go. And there was NO swooning over the kitchen, because I was always cleaning it up. And worst of all, as the days went on, all of my fearful questions from earlier began to answer themselves.
What if the boys didn’t want to move? Mama, can we go back home now? Mama, can we just drive by and look at the other house? Can we just see it one more time? I liked my other room better, mama.
What if I got homesick? I did. Yes, yes, I did. Like, sitting in my new huge closet with a shirt pressed against my mouth so no one would hear me crying homesick.
I just couldn’t understand it. Here we were in this beautiful gem of a home…I mean it was The House, for crying out loud…and my heart was so unhappy. It was scary to me how my feelings could change so quickly. I went from feeling our new house was “meant to be” to feeling like I hadn’t heard the Lord correctly. Had we moved to soon? To the wrong place?
The problem wasn’t with The House. It was with me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t meant to be our home, and soon, neither could Chris. But why? WHY would God tell us to move only for it to put us in such an upheaval?
It’s a horrible feeling to think that you’ve done something drastic, like moving your family, and that you’ve made some mistake. That you didn’t hear your Father like you thought you did. That now you’re paying some kind of price for the confusion.
But here are some things I learned:
1. God is not the author of confusion. Rather, He is the Author of Peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33 starts out, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” It’s not hard to hear His voice. He’s not hiding His answers in some kind of treasure quest. The more time we spend with Him, in His Word, the more clear His answers become to us. And yes, sometimes we have to deal with the natural consequences of our mistakes, but God is not some being who sits up on a throne waiting to punish us when we “mess up”.
God’s answer was clear to me and to Chris. He wanted us to move. And we did. And He used our time in The House in a might way in our lives.
2. God meant for us to live in The House. I know now with every fiber of my being that God meant for us to live in The House. He knew how uncomfortable I would feel. How out-of-sorts and insecure I would eventually become. He knew I would be knocked off of my axis. So why did He allow all of it?
Well, I think He did it because I had placed all of my security and comfort into my home. I had depended on a worldly, earthly possession to give me my hope instead of Him. The home my babies grew up in was near and dear to my heart. I had so much pride and security there and so much hope placed in my new house. I thank God now that He gently nudged me away and turned my heart towards Him, painful as it was.
3. Prayer is a sweet, sweet thing. When I was in the floor crying in the huge, beautiful, walk-in closet that was so nicely organized, my prayers started out like this…”Lord, get me out of here. I want to go back home!”
I knew that this was irrational. I knew I couldn’t go back. I knew that it was crazy to be in a wonderful house and to want out. But I got so confused that all I could think about was my situation and my wants.
The great thing was that my Father never let go of me. Even though my prayers were so selfish and superficial, He continued to nudge me towards communication when my heart was so heavy. He nurtured me and grew me. He showed me that there are so many more important issues in this world. Things could be worse than not knowing where home is. I learned something very important about the privilege of praying.
Prayer may not always change the outcome of my situation, but it will change me.
Gradually, my prayers started changing. Instead of praying, “Lord, get me out of this! Make this house feel like home to me!”, I started praying ,”Lord, change me. Help me to learn contentment and joy in all surroundings.”
And He did. I began to crave my prayer times with Him. Chris did, too. He said to me once, “I think God has us here so that I can learn to pray.” I’m so thankful for the sweet time of prayer I shared with the Lord during this time.
4. It’s not all about me. I have the most horrible habit of being too introspective. I analyze myself way too much, which leads to much self-centeredness. So far, in this story I’ve shared, the words I, my, and me have been plastered in almost EVERY sentence. Our great friend and realtor, Darren White, snapped me out of this one day when I was pouring out my woes to him. He said to me–in the nicest way– “Have you ever thought about the fact that this whole situation could have nothing to do with you at all?” He pointed out that the precious family who’d bought our old house was totally meant to be there. That they were so happy and so glad to be in their new home. And he also pointed out what my husband had mentioned a few times to me…that maybe we were just in The House for a time until the ones who were meant to be there more permanently were ready to be moved by the Lord.
Feelings are so fickle. They can change like the wind. They can make our hearts go through a roller-coaster of emotions. But the Lord… the Lord never changes. His love remains the same no matter where we live, no matter how we react when He moves us to a new situation. God…He is the home of our hearts.
So, I learned to be content in The House. I learned that my security is in God and not in an earthly dwelling. And I lived happily ever after in The House, right? Well…God had something different in mind. Something that I would have never even considered or thought possible. Something that He’d put into work long before I came along. And it made perfect sense…
In order to save you from reading a novel here, I’ve divided this story into two parts. Stay tuned for part two. I can’t wait to share with you what He did to help us find our way home!