Tuesday, August 20, 2013
We cleaned out the closets and scraped the baseboards. We painted the walls and power-washed the front porch. We carefully piled all of our art and photographs and tucked books and journals into tall, brown boxes. We tried to rid our house of us in order to appeal to others who might want it for their own. We were going to try to sell our house.
I tell myself all the time that a house is just a house. It’s nothing more and nothing less. It has very little to do with who I am or who I am created to be. Like everything that I can run my fingers over, it will one day turn to dust, and I certainly will not take it with me to glory.
But when I first walked into our house with fresh, cream walls and hardly a trace of all the moments we have woven under its roof, I felt it hard as brick: sometimes a house is more than just a house. It is more than the bricks and mortar that form its exterior and more than the wooden planks that make up its floors. It’s more than the square footage or the countertops.
A house is much more. It is the fingerprints on the windows from babies using the glass to pull with their wobbly new legs. It is smudges on the walls from babies turned to boys, running wild laps through the kitchen and dining room, banging into each other and bracing themselves from falls. It is the early morning creaking of old planks in the hallway beneath tip-toed feet and bated breath. It is the oak tree out back that sprawls over the yard like a protective mother. It is the memory of my heaven-boy looking up to find where the branches end in the sky. It is all of us here, digging into the smallest moments and pulling up a life and a family.
I can dream about a little bit more space and a kitchen that better reflects my style. I can dream about a street full of children, perfect playmates for my little ones. But I would be passing by all the ways that I am living the dream right here, under this roof. And precious moments would be lost down that slippery, subtle desire for always wanting a little bit more. But more is happening right around me, banging into walls and climbing out of beds. More is right here in front of me, settled deep in the walls of a little, brick ranch.
So instead of selling, we are staying. And now I begin to unpack those boxes and re-clutter our house. Now I start hanging the art on the walls and arranging the photographs again on the tables. The new paint will only remain fresh and clean for about another week. My boys will continue to be roughly five steps away from my room when they need me in the dark of the night. And the old, oak tree, the one the grabbed my boy’s imagination and curiosity, will rain colors of red and orange in no time at all. We will all bathe in its shedding for another autumn and likely several autumns still to come. Moving houses can feel too much like moving on. Because a house is never just a house.
All of life is pulled by currents of seasons. Knowing when the seasons will change and when the tide will roll in can feel like a guessing game. Maybe this is the right time, or maybe not just now. Knowing when to move and when to stay, in all things, is sheltered beneath a grace that is deeper and wider than any decision to make. But I also know that choosing to remain in this house, deciding to watch the leaves fall and the flowers bloom again from our front porch swing, is so comfortable and right, that now, just the knowing feels like home.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
When their hard questions pepper me like heavy rain, I tell them that some questions have no answers. But that never stops the peppering. I tell them that sometimes we have only little clues that keep us searching. But little boys want more. They are hungry for understanding and for making sense of things. And aren’t we all?
Instead of standing soaked in questions, we want to dance beneath the surface of a River where we understand it all. We want our hair to float wild and our bodies to feel no weight while deep belief rushes down our skin. We want to watch all the question marks float away in the River’s current. But we can only now dip our toes in the Jordan. We can only now dig our heels in the sand of its banks. And here on this side of the land that is promised, questions will always hang overhead.
There was a time when I grasped at big, weighty words like sovereignty and will to try to fill the space of the unknown. I thought that maybe logic and reason could break down every doubt I had, and make sense of all that I didn’t understand. As if faith must be completely defendable. As if faith must be wrapped in a package.
But now I hear my own sons’ constant curiosity and it sounds like music, sweet and simple. It sounds like wonder and looks like searching. And I have been ushered right into that space of the unknown, resting instead in words like mystery and awe. Instead of always wanting answers, I am now chasing a golden thread of grace that is woven throughout all that I do not understand. And what is faith if not sung to a tune of mystery and awe while reaching for grace?
I imagine the moment when I reach that final shore, and look back at all of my questions sinking into Love’s boundless waters. I imagine the day when all of my doubts are absorbed by Love’s strong arms. And I can finally drop that golden thread of grace that I’ve been clinging to and begin to look around. I imagine that all of my questions from standing on a far-away bank will turn to whispers. Whispers over and over again of, “It’s true. It’s real.”