“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4, ESV
When we were engaged, Ben was responsible for finding and choosing a home for us where we would live after our wedding in July of 2016. After lots of internet searches and research and way too much nagging from me, he finally found the perfect little house right in between our hometown and the university where I would begin graduate school that fall. It was a cozy one bedroom, one bathroom house that had been recently remodeled, and it was near shops, restaurants, a hospital, parks, and the interstate, and it was in our budget! We couldn’t believe we had gotten so lucky in our search!
When we moved into our little rental in Concord, NC, we didn’t know how long we would be there, but knew it wouldn’t be forever; probably only until I finished my two-year grad program. Over time we moved our things in, decorated, made it our own, and I remember that I fell more in love with our little nook every time I spent time cleaning and caring for it. It began to feel more and more like home, and I was smitten.
Fastforward nearly three and a half years after Ben first moved in (I followed only a few months later after our wedding), and we are still living in our tiny starter home. Although I did finish my graduate program on time, God opened the door for Ben to begin school this past fall, and so we switched places almost immediately after my graduation and Ben became the student while I provided an income for our family. This meant that our financial situation didn’t really change much and our need to be central to our families and the university remained the same, so we weren’t able to save up for any kind of down payment or take on the financial responsibility of home ownership, especially in the neighborhood where we had rented and that we had fallen in love with in the first years of our marriage.
This would have been fine, except I had friends who were beginning to buy their own homes and settle down, and I caught the dreaded house fever. I began to resent our little rental and find all the things I thought were wrong with it. We had outgrown it. There wasn’t enough storage. Our landlord’s neighboring home was too close. Our street was too busy. Our yard was too teeny for our new dog. I was suddenly spending all my time on realty sites and creating “Dream Home” Pinterest boards and researching first-time home buyer programs. I even contacted a mortgage broker to see what Ben and I might be eligible for in terms of a home loan. In my heart, I had already packed my bags and was ready to go. The place we had called home for the entirety of our marriage was no longer good enough for me.
One day we got a call from the mortgage broker with whom we had been working and received the sad news that our income didn’t qualify us for much in the way of a home loan, which meant unless we were willing to move into a home even smaller than what we were renting, now wouldn’t be a good time for us to buy.
I was heartbroken. I had already decided that we were moving, and I had let myself grow more and more excited the more I looked at homes that proved to be out of our reach. I would have to settle for living in our little house for a while longer, potentially a lot longer, before we would be ready to buy a place of our own.
After recovering from the disappointment of this news, I began to seek God about how I would make it through renting for several more years when I was so ready for a home to call mine. And of course, as God tends to do, He began working in me, comforting me, but also teaching and instructing my sinful heart. He reminded me that home ownership didn’t make me more of an adult or more successful and wouldn’t make me more satisfied. Home ownership comes with its own challenges and hardships, and it’s okay that we aren’t prepared to take that on at this point in our lives. He also encouraged me to begin loving my home again, to appreciate all it had given us and all the memories we had made there. I decided to freshen up the place a bit, do some spring cleaning, replace some of our items that were worn and in need of an update. Suddenly I was able to embrace my home with fresh eyes and a new perspective. I began to appreciate the ample counter space in our kitchen, the natural light from our windows, the fact that the home’s small size meant that it only took me an hour or two to give it a good, deep clean. I was thankful for being able to remain in the community that we loved and for more time to enjoy and appreciate the place where we had spent all of our firsts of marriage together. That little rental began to steal my heart all over again like it had over three years earlier. I realized that owning a house didn’t make that place my home; living in a home made it mine. It is up to me to make the place where I am planted home, to find joy and satisfaction and contentment there, to treat that place with care and love because it had been given to me to steward well, regardless if we would be there for two months, two years, or a lifetime.
This experience taught me many valuable lessons: to wait patiently on and trust the Lord’s plan and timing, to steward our finances wisely, to find joy and satisfaction regardless of my circumstances, to appreciate the many gifts I’ve been given, to grow where I’m planted. In a world that sends us the message that we need to have certain things or meet certain milestones to be happy or successful, these can be challenging truths to accept and believe. However, I am thankful that the Lord chose to reveal and correct these struggles in my heart so that I can live in joy instead of in bitterness or resentment and instead of putting our family in financial strain just so I could get what I wanted. Today I can say that when I walk into our little house at the end of each day, I’m thankful to be home.
I’m praying that you can grow, live, and thrive wherever you may be planted right now, my friends. Maybe that’s in your childhood home with your generous and hospitable parents, which is allowing you to save money and make wise financial decisions. Maybe it’s in a college dorm while you complete your studies. Maybe it’s in a rental, like us, where you are enjoying not having the responsibilities of home ownership just yet. Maybe it’s in your forever home where you are building a life with the ones you love. Or maybe it’s somewhere else that God has decided is the perfect place for you right now, in this season of life. Regardless, may we all choose the joy, satisfaction, and contentment of making ourselves at home right where we are.
I appreciate you so much, can’t wait to talk soon.
P.S. Peep our little home below!