One of the biggest secondary losses I experienced after Garry died was the loss of our home. It seems silly to grieve something as materialistic and relatively unimportant as a structure of brick and wood, but for me our house wasn’t just a structure, it was our home. And it represented so much more than just the place where we rested our heads at night. Our home was a physical representation of all of our hopes and dreams for our family: a place to put down roots, a place to watch our children grow, a safe neighborhood and an excellent school district. It represented our hope for our future together and our dreams for our family.
We had just moved into our “forever home” in the sweltering heat of June in Texas, the summer before he died. It was an exciting time for us and we were thrilled to finally be in the place where we intended to stay. The house was beautiful and exactly what we wanted in a home; to be honest, I think Garry bought it for us because I fell in love with the clawfoot tub in the master bathroom. He had a way of spoiling me like that. It didn’t take me long at all to unpack all of our belongings and make this new space our own. We had moved so many times that I had become a pro at getting us settled, but this home made it easy to do and I was excited to do it.
When he died the following October, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep our beautiful new home. I let myself dream for a little while that I could find a way to stay, but after the holidays were over and I had a better understanding of my financial situation, I knew there was nothing else I could do but sell our home. The grieving I did for this new loss was surprisingly intense. It felt like everything in my life was being taken from me and I felt so completely out of control. But I knew that there was really no other option, so I put on my big girl pants and I put the house on the market and I focused on finding a more affordable home in the new city where me and the kids would start fresh. Focusing my shattered hope on finding a sweet, small house for the kids and I that I could afford on my own gave me a little bit of solace when the world seemed to be falling apart all around me.
Of course, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to purchase a home in my new city. What I didn’t realize at the time was that because I was a stay-at-home-mom for six years and had no history of income in that time, coupled with my student loan debt, no lender would qualify me for a mortgage of any significance. Finding out that I had virtually zero chance of buying a home left me reeling and completely shattered. I had owned a home since before Garry and I got married in 2010. I had spent every free weekend improving every property I ever owned; it was one of my greatest passions. It had always been very important to me to make whatever house I owned my personal sanctuary, a place of rest and refuge for myself and my family, our safe haven. And now, I was being told that my only option was to live in a house that wasn’t my own, a house that I had no control over, a house that I could not improve or make into my own space. And I would have to pay the person who owned that house for the privilege of just living there. That was a very difficult thing for me to accept and I grieved hard…again.
A few weeks ago, I started to wonder if I should even attempt to explore the idea of buying a home again. My lease will be over in April and I had to decide if I was going to continue renting or risk putting myself through the turmoil of trying to buy again and being told no. Part of me had little to no hope that buying was even in the cards yet. But another part of me, the part of me that usually gets me into trouble, kept whispering, “The answer will always be no if you don’t keep trying.” So I quietly assembled a team of trusted experts and asked them to help me look into it. I didn’t tell any of my family what I was doing; I suppose I was afraid that they would perhaps disapprove of the idea and stifle what little hope I did have. Instead, I asked my mortgage friend to see if I could even be pre-approved for a decent loan; I asked my realtor friend to see if there were any decent listings within my budget; I asked my financial planner if he thought this was a wise financial move for me right now.
I can’t tell you how surprised I was when all I kept hearing was, “YES.” Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” All of my married life, I relied on my husband to be my wise counselor, and he was very good at it. He was smart and savvy and responsible and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could trust his judgment. Somewhere along the way, my reliance on my husband’s wise counsel eroded the trust I had in my own ability to make big, important decisions. After he died, I have felt inadequate and have constantly second-guessed whether the decisions I now had to make on my own, big or small, were the “right” decisions. What I have come to understand now is that I was never meant to make these decisions on my own, nor should I be making these decisions on my own. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I need a man in my life to help me make wise choices. I think God has been trying to show me that He is constantly placing people in my life who are there to be wise counselors. He has been trying to show me that when I feel inadequate or incapable or fear that I am making a bad choice, I need simply to ask these divinely placed people for their expert advice, listen to their wisdom, and then step confidently out in faith in making my decision.
So last weekend I did just that. Last weekend I put an offer on a home that seemed like the perfect little starter house for someone starting over. It had all the space we need, it was only a couple of years old with many warranties still in place, and the finishes of the home were exactly what I would have picked. Not to mention that this little house is only blocks away from my sister and her husband who acts like a daddy to my kids. My realtor and I came up with what we thought was a fair offer, but we fully expected a bit of negotiations and haggling to take place. Instead, what I got was another “YES.” They accepted our offer and in March, I will be a homeowner once again.
This little house is certainly a far cry from the big, beautiful home that Garry and I last owned together. It is certainly not where I thought I would be living at this stage in my life. It is certainly not the house that I dream about when I dream of my forever home. But it is the beginning of a new thing. It is the place where my kids and I will learn how to live and thrive again. It is the place where I will create a new safe haven, a new place of rest and refuge, a new space of sanctuary where I can heal and grow and discover just how strong and capable I truly am. It is the beginning of the promise of new things, good things to come, and I am excited to once again have a place I can call home.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”