We were 21, juniors in college, and engaged to be married in a year and a half. The town in which we had fallen in love, and spent the last couple years growing together at college seemed the perfect place to buy a house for after our graduation and wedding.
We spent Saturday mornings driving around, sipping coffee, and writing down addresses so we could return to our dorm computers and check the properties.
We were captivated by a sweet little home built in 1942 with hardwood floors just waiting to be refinished and the original windows–it was full of character. We bought the home before getting married and worked every Saturday–spackling, sanding, painting, gutting the bathroom (and then realizing we were much better at demolition than remodeling…Dad to the rescue), and dreaming. My roommates and I lived there for a year while Mark and I planned our wedding and continued working on the house.
Our wedding was perfect and we came home to a dining room overflowing with gifts. Within a few months, our home was already the setting for game nights, brunches, barbecues and cozy whirly-pop-popcorn movie nights. It was also evident within a couple of months that both of our careers were taking us away from the home and creating long commutes (mine was an hour, one-way). After some months of prayer and more Saturday mornings with coffee and addresses we decided we’d be moving about 30 minutes east.
Here’s the problem, though, if you only own your house for two years, there isn’t a whole lot of equity yet. And, if you buy your house when prices are “rock bottom” and then the bottom literally falls out of the market (oh, hello there 2007) and you cannot even get what you paid for the house, you have what some might call a bit of a pickle. So, we became (somewhat unwilling) landlords. Being a landlord is not for the faint of heart (and neither is paying 1.5 mortgage payments every month).
We had late rent, no rent, leaks in the house, clogged toilets, a flooded basement….all while trying to maintain and pay for the home we were actually living in.
There were several questions we could have asked at that time:
Why did we buy this house when we were so young?
Why, oh, why did they put a flat roof on part of the house? (so, so, so many leaks)
Did we make a mistake in buying this house?
Why won’t God just get us out of this mess?
None of those questions are helpful or productive, though, some better questions were:
What is God working to teach us right now?
What blessings is God trying to get to us? (God is always trying to get blessings to His children–if He holds something back it is for our protection).
In another post, I’ll share a few of the many things God taught us through that property (and how He’s still using it to teach us). But, today, I want to encourage you, in the middle of whatever mess you may be in, to start asking some better questions. What is God trying to teach you right now? Remember, He isn’t a teacher who is merely focused on getting you on to the next grade level and out of His hair.
He is a teacher who cares so deeply for you that He will allow hurt in your life now, so you are equipped and prepared to handle the blessing He has for you later.
Share your messes with me (on Facebook)! Let’s figure out together what God is trying to teach you!