In the middle of last week I found myself browsing the ads on Craigslist and was taken by surprise when I found a house for rent that seemed to meet our needs. I messaged the owner and he sent us an application, which I filled out and sent back an hour later. I wasn’t expecting that we would be approved because I had a strange feeling about the whole thing, but the next day the man contacted me to arrange a time to go have a look at it. When we did, we found that it really was a dream come true.
It was two stories, with a cute yard and a 2 car garage, open floor plan, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and had a huge deck that wrapped around the back with exits in the living room and master bedroom. I left with images in my head of holiday family get togethers in the big living area, weekly evening dinner prep in the kitchen and Sunday morning coffee on the deck overlooking lake Charlevoix. I was excited.
How would we make it to doctors appointments and each of our jobs and my night class if we lived so far from town and share one car? How would we afford to pay for propane heat, especially if this winter turns out to be harsher than anyone imagines? Who will help us move as the winter season begins and will it be taking on too much with everything we have going on?… Before long we realized the opportunity was lost; there was too much at risk and no safety net.
I was so sad. I still am. Every day since we looked at that beautiful house I’ve found myself thinking about what it would be like to live in a bigger space with room to grow. And the only thing I’ve been able to do to calm the yucky feeling that comes with passing up an opportunity that seems so perfect is to turn to a piece of writing I found the day we were approved to look at the house; the same piece of writing that was a sign that gave me a bad feeling that I was about to learn a lesson.
It’s from a 365 day Devotion book I was given in the hospital with Kinsley this past summer. It focuses on embracing joy in God’s presence. The gist of that day’s page was this:
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like. Do not begin your day determined to make everything go your way. Each day you will bump up against at least one thing that doesn’t yield to your will…if you are intent upon having your way in everything, you will be frustrated much of the time. My purpose for you is not to grant your every wish or to make your life easy. My desire is that you learn to trust Me in all circumstances.”
At first I read this and thought to myself, okay but if you want something badly enough you will do what needs to be done to get it. I was content with that answer until we looked over the details and realized there was nothing that could be done- this opportunity was just too far out of reach at this time. So I had to look back at the piece again.
The second reflection I made was one out of anger. I found myself thinking how unfair it is that we’ve had to endure all this and it has set us back financially. I felt angry that this is an opportunity we could have seized had we not suffered financial struggles due to Kinsley’s defects. I felt upset that it wasn’t “easy” like everyone else who gets to live in their parents house or basement or whatever with their new baby. I found myself thinking, “how easy it must be to live at mom and dads house, how much money could we save by piggybacking on our parents too. ” I was feeling jealous of others who get so much help. I wondered “how can they possibly know what it is like to have only each other day in and day out.” And I decided they must not know. I tried to imagine what it must be like not to have the stress of maintaining a home and taking care of a baby on one’s own, while constantly trying to make forward progress to what better suits family life. I was angry that almost every time I turn around another person is having a baby and receiving loads of help from mom and dad, a direct result of still living in their home, while here we are doing all this without depending on anyone but ourselves and each other for our shelter, our meals, the care of our child. Later that night I was still raging when I found a quote on Pinterest that said “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” And then it hit me. God tapped on my shoulder and pulled me out of my pity party.
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like.” “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” I was quickly reminded that while there is nothing wrong with looking to better your life and situation, it is still very important to be grateful for what you have. That was lesson one.
Then I started thinking about all these young parents raising their kids in their parent’s house, and I decided maybe that’s what they have to do right now. Maybe they wish they didn’t need mom and dad’s help. Maybe they are living with their parents because it’s what they have to do for now until they have what they need to go out on their own. Truth is I don’t know, and even if it looks easier for them from the outside, it might not be. Maybe it’s 10 times harder. Maybe that’s why they live at home. Maybe we are quite fortunate. Maybe not. Either way, I decided I should not complain about having to depend on myself and my partner, because that would be taking for granted the independent lifestyle we love and everything we’ve built together. I decided I shouldn’t be envious of those who have help because I don’t know why they need it. What I know is, my situation is different and I’m quite fortunate, so I should continue to focus on my blessings and keep watering my own grass. Everybody is just doing what they have to do until they can do what they want to do. Maybe it’s not ideal, maybe it’s not what we want, but His purpose for us is not to grant our every wish or to make our lives easy. His desire is that we learn to trust Him in all circumstances.
So I’m accepting that this is our struggle, and it’s different for a reason. The same goes for everyone else. I’m letting it all go, the sadness, the anger, and the comparison, and I’m learning to have patience and be grateful while trusting in his plan.