The Holy Spirit was so strong, heavy, and grieving in my chest, that come evening, the words spilled out across the dinner table to my husband. We shouldn’t go through with it. We can’t. But I don’t know why. It doesn’t make any sense. Both to my devastation and relief, he’d been hearing the same thing.
Our drive to the suburbs that week had a different tone. Solemn. Quiet. We had gotten pretty far into this thing--they were set to break ground the following week--and we were afraid they wouldn’t let us out of it. I wasn’t sure what we would do then, but I knew God was bigger than all of this and He could figure it out. Or at least I hoped he would.
It was the night we were to sign the final paperwork. We sat down and told him instead our circumstances had changed and we were sorry, but we couldn’t go through with the plans. We needed out. He listened, said something like these things happen but he was sorry to see us go, and then let us off the hook, no strings attached. Grateful and sad at the same time, we drove out of the development that night knowing we’d never come back. Like the steam from a cup of coffee evaporates into the chilly night air, our dream house was gone.
I met her at the mall play place about a year ago.
It was the first time I’d taken the kids out of the house since the start of school--we’d gotten too comfortable with lazy mornings and early naptimes--and they were thrilled to run around and play.
She had two kids, a boy and a girl. She must’ve struck up a conversation, because my introverted self isn’t usually the one to do so. We exchanged typical mommy banter--parenting woes, stories about our kids, the different weekly activities we attend--and somewhere in there she mentioned they built a house in the suburbs. The lived on a cul-de-sac in a huge designer home development with lots of community green-space and walking trails, which the kids enjoy.
“Really??” I said. “Is it the development with the community pool?”
“Yes!” she replied. “How did you know?”
“We almost built a house there ourselves about six years ago. That’s kind of crazy--we could’ve been neighbors!”
She seemed pleasant, bubbly, and outgoing, and perhaps, if life had turned out differently, we would’ve been friends. There weren’t any other moms with young kids on her street, she went on to tell me, and most of her immediate neighbors didn’t have kids at all. She knew of other stay-at-home-moms in the development, but she wasn’t sure what they did all day when their kids were in school besides host cocktail parties, spa days, or fancy lunches. Maybe when her kids got a little older she’d attend some of those, if she could stomach a side of neighborhood gossip with her meal.
As I listened to her share about her life, I realized in front of me that day was more than a potential friendship. It was a glimpse through time of what might’ve been. A peek at how different life would’ve looked if we’d traveled the path not taken.
What I had no way of knowing six years ago, however, was that our first house wouldn’t sell. That we still haven’t been able to sell it. I couldn’t have known then that my husband would soon come to a crossroads in his career and have to choose between continued success or his marriage and family. The right choice is seldom easy or cheap, and it came with a pay cut equivalent to half his salary. What I didn’t know then is the towering stack of laundry that was our privileged life was about to come tumbling down. We would’ve lost everything, but God, in His great mercy, saved us from ourselves.
Because contentment, satisfaction, and peace were never designed to be found in a thing. I didn’t know then that if I wasn’t content with the home we had, I would never be satisfied with a different one. That the secret to contentment is not more, bigger, better or newer: It is Christ.
This post is part of a series I’m writing for the month of October called, 31 Ways God Paved the Road to Urban Missions. If you’re interested in the reading the rest of the series, you can find it here. To receive these posts directly in your inbox every week, subscribe below!