The culmination of all those events led us to an eventuality that millions like us have faced: we could lose our home to foreclosure or willingly give it up in a short sell. For a few months, we have faced the horrid option of paying our utilities or paying the mortgage on a house whose value sank. Our kids are getting bigger and the house is getting smaller. We can’t pay our property tax. Our dishwasher doesn’t work. We raised the white flag.
While we were on vacation last week, our realtor listed the house. The surprise realtor and client visit yesterday afternoon was enough to drive home the reality of leaving, but when we received an email that someone made an offer, I got really scared. I worried and considered our lives for the next six months. I wondered how we were going to pay rent if we couldn’t afford a mortgage. I wondered how I was going to make more money. I wondered how we would avoid more ballooning debt when we’re on our way to eliminating it. Then Marcus walked downstairs holding both ears asking for a Band-Aid. See? No time for worry. Within minutes, I was in the midst of post-three o’clock mom stress that included a doctor’s visit for a double ear infection, swimming lessons, and prescription drop-off and pick-up all on a near-empty tank of gas. I got the email while I was at swimming lessons. I called Dave. I told him I was stressed, but then followed it up with, “I don’t really have time to think about the long-term like this because I’ve got to put out all the day’s fires.” It’s true.
I tried to avoid turning into Drill Sergeant Harpie Mom. I’m doing my best to shield my sensitive kids from this chaos. However, somewhere between prescription drop-off and tank fill-up, I started to smile. I might have even chuckled. “Holy shit,” I probably said aloud. “We’re at the end.”
Four years of Bible-style events beginning with a flood and ending with losing our home has been one long teachable moment.
Five years ago, I was pretty arrogant. I owned my home, held a cush job as a bartender, rode horses, ran, cycled, hiked, kept my house clean, bought stuff, and generally aimed for all the material stuff that pointed to success and achievement in life. I was in the midst of getting it all. When I got pregnant, all that stuff that seemed so important slowly dropped away, one after another. I could no longer ride horses or run. I couldn’t buy as much stuff because we were saving for a baby. Yet I still felt the pull of those things, like somehow letting go of those external desires meant that I was losing parts of myself. I was missing the lesson.
If I continued to miss the lesson, I’d simply look back at my life and see ruins. I’d turn into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife and live a life of anger and bitterness. I’d be filled with envy and jealously and fury for what I never got, yet was somehow entitled to. But through the trials of losing my job, death of my friend, near loss of Marcus (twice), quitting another job, and working with my family to redefine boundaries, I learned quickly that material things failed to hold me up. I felt no support when I leaned on stuff. However, when Dave walked through the door every night at 7 o’clock, I learned how heavily I could lean on him. He simply didn’t move. I’d never needed anyone in this life as much as I needed Dave. He didn’t drift away or become obsolete. He just stayed and held our family together.
The larger lesson came from God. My faith is strong, and it grows stronger daily. I believe that this series of events has been a larger effort to strip me of my drive to fill material needs. I am no longer filled by things. No longer do I care about the best sheets or fancy shoes. I care about people. Events of the past 5 years taught me that empathy, passion, and love are my strengths. I’m not going to love life if I’m trying to achieve someone else’s standard of success. I’m successful at life when I make it better for everybody, and that’s how I live out God’s purpose for me. My job was to learn to stop taking what wasn’t mine. I needed to learn to give without expectation of reward. I shouldn’t be surprised to find that I now feel overwhelmed by my riches. I have a beautiful marriage, loving, happy, grateful children, deep satisfying relationships with my family and friends, and best of all, I love myself again. No longer driven by what I don’t have, I find that I have all I could ever want!
So between dropping off a prescription and filling up my tank, I realized that I don’t need anything. As long as I have my family, I’m fine. We’re fine. I’m scared but fine. I don’t know where I’ll be living in 6 months. I don’t know how we’ll be able to afford skyrocketing rents in town. I literally feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff and God’s asking me, “How much do you trust me?” And Good Lord! I am scared and I don’t know, but I’ve got a million reasons to trust Him!
I want to know before I jump, but I think that’s the last lesson. I’m either growing wings or He’s gonna catch me, but either way, I have faith. We’ll be fine.