I found this tonight, something I typed on my iPad in the coffee shop one morning several years ago. It’s just a short piece about saying goodbye to the old house right before we handed over the keys. Those two years with two houses were long and hard, but there were some beautiful moments in there, too. Which you can all read about as of May 1, when my book is published :-). In the meantime, I wanted to share this little bit, this little moment…one of the few times when I wasn’t in a hurry to let the house go.
I walk down the stairs, the old wood creaking under my weight, and go into the living room, closing the tall, painted plantation shutters to block out prying eyes. Lights are low, TV is off, kids are quietly snoozing and Tim is working nights. I sink into my chair, safely nestled in the corner of the room. The air is charged, though the house is peaceful. I am uncertain and nervous and excited. Full of expectation and hope that my God will meet me here. That I will find Him, here and now, in this place.
Years later, my friends and I walk through the now-empty rooms in the same house. Light pours in from the windows that stretch to the top of the eleven and a half foot ceilings. The wooden floors have dust bunnies in the corners, and the carpet looks bedraggled—creased and smashed from furniture, dark stains where sippy cups once spilled.
We spread out and walk through the house, praying individually. Anointing this space for the new owners. Like the Israelites, we build altars of remembrance. This is where Katie opened presents at her second birthday party. This is the wall of shelves Dad built for my office. This is where I was when my friend Michelle called and said her six-year-old son had been Lifelined, and would I pray? This is the place where the Christmas tree bulb, buried under piles of gifts and decorations, melted the carpet fibers but miraculously didn’t burn.
This house is a sacred place because of the life we had here. As excited as Tim and I are about the new place, it is sad to let this one go.
As the words died down, as our wandering selves came back together, I knelt down on the floor at one end of the living room—my holy ground. This is the place. Right here. I wanted to curl up on the floor and recapture that moment. Those moments. The nights, while Tim worked and the kids slept in their rooms above me, when I met with God. The Almighty—here in my living room.
The magnitude of that. The possibility. The blessing.
Suddenly, I don’t want to leave the house after all. This is where I found Him. This is where I cried, wrestling with questions and doubts. This is where I let go of my fears and found faith. This is where I built a previously unimagined intimacy with the lover of my soul. What I found with Him isn’t common, I don’t think. It’s too precious to take it for granted, but I did.
We wanted the new house. We agonized about finding a buyer and worried about the financial strain those two years put on us. But now that I’m faced with the reality of letting go, my fears take my breath away. I’m overcome with sorrow for what I’ve lost, what I once had. Can I find that again?
He is the same God, no matter where I am. The temple is inside—inside me, not present only in a certain room or building or sanctuary. But still, I know I’m standing on this piece of hallowed ground for the last time.
And I wonder. Where do I go? Will I ever find Him again, in the same way? Can I go back—and move forward—at the same time?