..and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last. ~ Adam Duritz
Now before I get started, I would like to acknowledge that many others have suffered great losses, homes and jobs. My struggles are mine alone and by no means do I mean to compare or belittle anyone else in their personal experiences. I am merely grateful that my hard won lessons were learned without extreme damage to my family, especially my children.
As many of you know, one year ago Adam and I came across "a deal of a lifetime." We had an opportunity to move to a bigger,"better" house than the one we live in now. We made a deal with a builder that sounded too good to be true. As it turns out it was.. We lived in that house for seven months, looking back they were the longest seven months of my life. How can that be you say? I lived in a house that had a walk-in pantry, huge kitchen, a jacuzzi tub and enough bathrooms and space that we never needed to cross paths in the crazy morning. The space was blissful and yes, I miss it.
It's what happened in those seven months that give me pause to this day. I became increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt like I was trying to live up to an image that wasn't me. Adam and I made numerous trips to lenders, trying to find that perfect loan so that we could officially buy our "dream house." Every rejection only stressed us out and made us feel imperfect. It became increasingly evident that to keep that house I would have to continue to work two jobs. Teaching at KU had been a for fun job, I never wanted it to be a requirement. That made me bitter. Our children became increasingly aloof and Zach became prone to extreme tantrums and anxiety. To top it off, we became stuck in this house as the summer led to a horrible drought and heatwave. It's like we were in hell and we had made a deal with the devil. It became more and more apparent that we had been lied to and that we were naive in thinking this was meant to be. It also became more apparent that our new mortgage payment would be nearly twice what we were used to paying and we were crunching numbers to try to make it work. I refused to leave that house, it was my dream and I had worked so hard to get there. Or so I thought..
During all of this, I had been invited to visit orphans in Rwanda with one of my favorite people. I also had the opportunity to take Annabelle with me, an opportunity of a lifetime. I knew I had to work hard, save and fund-raise to be able to go on this journey. One day, during our many financial discussions where Adam kept telling me that we had made a mistake and we should go home, and me refusing to leave, he made a profound statement. "If we stay here, Sarah, we will not be able to send you to Africa. There will simply be nothing left." That was like a dagger to my heart. How could I live in excess when there are many with nothing? How could I sacrifice a chance to hug, hold, show God's love and give the gift of time to an orphan? What kind of example would I be showing my children? That was enough for me and the decision was made to return home.
We moved home on our 14th wedding anniversary and it was not easy. We were raped by a moving company that took full advantage of our situation. The day was long and full of heartache. What had I done to my children? Would they be alright? I couldn't help thinking about all I could have done with all the money and time wasted on trying to stay in that house. My children's reaction to being home was what healed my heart. As we came into the doorway, they each started talking about memories they had shared here. We have lived here for 11 years, all of their lives. What was I thinking by trying to "improve" their lives by moving them to a "better", bigger house? They had all they needed all this time and so did I.
Our decision to move back became even more validated for me yesterday. We were putting up our Christmas decorations and I thought I could put the tree in a new spot. Annabelle reminded me that it had always been on the other side of the room. I was going to not put up the cheesy, light up Santa that sits on the mantle, until Amelia asked for it. My heart was full when Zach stated, "I'm happy that we came back in August, so that we could have Christmas here." This is their home.
So this Christmas, I challenge you to think about what you really need. What does this season really mean to you? Practice living in contentment, I'm doing it now and I feel richer than I ever have before.