Friday, April 27, 2012

The waiting...

The waiting truly is the hardest part.

Things might be brewing with our home sale attempt, but they also might not. We wait for more information, more details, more possible deal-breakers or deal-sealers. We wait.

All this waiting, and trusting, has me thinking more and more about how God grows faith in His people.

It's not a pleasant experience sometimes, at least not for me, because the helpless waiting forces me to realize and acknowledge that I control practically nothing in my little realm. I never did, but for many years, I thought I did. I happily meandered down the path of my life, believing that I had the final say and that I would determine my own destiny.

And I do have a say in what happens, I suppose; my decisions, my reactions, whether or not I pray fervently—all these factors play a part in what befalls me and my loved ones.

Yet, there is so very much that I cannot control. I can see only a miniscule section of the world around me, and I can't begin to understand most of what I see within that section. Not only can I not grasp it all, I am only able to imagine the visible, provable part: I believe there is also an entire reality that is invisible to us, where good forces and bad forces are always quite busy with conflicts. The more I see, the less I am able to see...

I can understand though, in hindsight, how these uncertain times have forced me to lean more heavily on God. When all is predictable and feels steady and easy, then my mind turns happily to things of little consequence: art and music, fun activities, worldly gossip. And when the rug feels as if it might be yanked out from under my hesitant feet, then I find it much more difficult to focus on even remotely shallow brain fodder. Suddenly, the stakes are higher and I feel somber. I think heavier thoughts. So, it's nice to have the advantage of memory in the midst of rickety circumstances. I look back at God's faithfulness, at how past issues have been resolved (often in ways I could never have dreamed). In this current trial, I can grasp with much more depth than I could in the past just how reliable God is, and how unpredictable, and how creative.

The older I get, the more I realize how limited is my earthly intellect in the face of the big stuff. Indeed, we are all severely limited. We can all study and ponder amino acids, but I don't know a soul who can fathom how they were initially combined to form proteins that became life. We know at how many weeks a baby's heart begins to beat, but no one can explain what causes that action to begin. Scientists guess the ages of mountain ranges, or ocean beds, try to pin histories on blobs of solidified lava, try to explain arctic ice layers, and really, their means are childish at times, their laws determined by their own manly methods. No one really knows very much, when you get right down to it. We suppose a lot, we hypothesize and educate ourselves, but I don't think most of it is certain. It's supported by more man-made data, and discussed and confirmed by people who are deeply invested in the truth of such data. That's just not good enough for me anymore.

I will admit that there appear to be some inarguable truths on this little blue orb, but I can also see that a great number of intellectuals are slapping that "truth" label onto statements at will. It's all expensive, government-funded guesswork inspired by the pursuits of a few.

Someone lent me a book recently, and I started to read it, really I did. I tried to give it a chance. But it attacked a lot of the very things by which I choose to define my role in this place. The writer tried to provide logical reasons for doubting Jesus's virgin birth, the miracles that the Bible claims He performed—that author attacked the very character of God Himself—because Jesus is God and man. If I'm going to believe the Bible, I have to believe it. Period. I can't make it logical. I can't dumb it down to fit this world's knowledge base. God told us right up front that His word would be nonsense to the nonbeliever. He didn't try to hide this from us.

So, I gave up finishing the book. I felt as if I were really getting somewhere in my faith, though, because I didn't even take offense at it. I was reading this fellow's charges, his many pompous words as he expounded on the inaccuracy of the Bible and tore it down, and I was just shaking my head as I read. He doesn't get it, I thought; he still thinks he has a clue, that author. He still thinks he can figure it all out.

We are itty, bitty fleas to this universe. We'll never wrap our little minds around it. And I'm increasingly at peace with that. How could I begin to dissect God's ways? They're not for me to comprehend.

All I know is that there's very little I know, that I am so small...but when I go to Him in prayer, He is there to meet me. I'm supposed to go as a child; I'm not to bring my childish, argumentative, proud manner. Those are not the same at all.

In the last few chapters of the book of Job, God sort of smacks down everyone who questions His decisions. He makes it clear Who is large and in charge. I know it's Old Testament, and that Jesus brought the gospel of love, but it still bears my consideration, this idea that I am "dust and ashes." There are far worse things to be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The slobs who live in my house

I have never realized what a slattern I am until now.

I am cleaning my house not for company, not for a holiday, but for strangers. Complete, total strangers who walk through the rooms, opening our closets, peeping into cupboards, possibly noticing with contempt the dust bunnies that populate the undersides of all of our furniture.

Strangers are perusing the contents of the medicine cabinet.

Strangers are peering into the dark confines of the attic access.

We're trying to fool these strangers, you see. We want them to believe that we don't have a lot of stuff. That this small, 2-bedroom home can easily accommodate them and all their tchotchkes. We also want them to believe that we are tidy and clean, that our beds are always smooth and unslept-in, that our dirty clothes never spill over the edge of the baskets, that everything, simply everything, is pretty and contained.

I don't like trying to live this way day to day. It's exhausting. And it's disturbing, because frankly, I'm realizing that we are rather piggish here in this house. I never knew it until I had to see my home through someone else's eyes: our realtor.

She is sweet, and kind, and utterly polite and professional. And she sees that we have clutter and refuse in every corner, and she courteously explains what we need to do. Get rid of that chair. Take down that privacy curtain. See if there is another place to put those boxes of papers. Pack up some of the many breakables atop the dining room cupboard.

We do what she says, and she is right; her suggestions create significant improvements in the appearance of the rooms. Suddenly, they're slightly more airy—I don't feel the walls squeezing in on me anymore. I see that her ideas are right-on and impactful. By the time I press her for more, and she offers up the brilliant motion that we scrub the tub until it's actually white, I am so convinced of her wisdom that I don't even take umbrage at the comment. Because, you see, she's right; it's filthy. WE'RE filthy. Who in their right mind could live in this foul place? How did we not see how unsightly it was, what a fire hazard all those stacks must be?

You get accustomed to looking at a place, and you stop seeing it. It's the same way with your face, your body; this is how people become old without realizing it, gain 20 pounds without any real alarm until their clothes cease to fit. You don't really see things after a while. You have an image in your mind, completely fictional in many cases, and that is the image you rely upon. It's much easier to choose that happy, pleasing image than it is to actually see what's around and in front of you.

It's been rather humbling, having to prepare my home for other people, and in doing so having to really open my eyes and see the mess before me. I like some of the improvements we've made... yet I feel like an actor on a sterile stage. This isn't really our home anymore. It might be again, if no one else buys it. It might not be anymore if someone else decides it's the place for them. But for now, it's a setting for a carefully plotted scheme we're attempting to run, a perfectly legal little sting operation: We're neat. We're clean. We don't collect anything. And we never, ever post pictures of ourselves. How utterly gauche and overly personal.

Now. Can I please have my home back? Somewhere? Anywhere?

Friday, April 13, 2012


This will have to be quick. It's been a busy time. Our home is on the market, and must always be "show-ready" which is not a simple task when you are simultaneously actually living in said home. But, one must do what one must do. So, I continue to attempt to stem the ever-flowing tide of stuff.

I think that most of the time, I am not a sentimental person. I have a few possessions I like, but most objects I could jettison without a lot of thought or regret. I don't feel quite that flippant about our house, yet we have spent a number of years here, and many memories have been woven into the bricks and grass.

I was weeding in the garden today, spraying Round-up madly, pulling vile plants by roots, listening to birds, and it suddenly occurred to me that if we sell, this will be someone else's realm. Someone else might let the weeds take over; someone else might not step outside to hear the bird melodies, let alone to encourage them with seeds and suet. Someone else might not like the butter-yellow cabinets in the kitchen, and paint them a hideous shade; they might even do a poor job of it, eschewing painter's tape and drop cloths and ruining the lovely countertop and floor.

Someone else might not appreciate all the work we put into the yard, the pretty perennials we lovingly placed in what had been considered and deemed to be the perfect spot. Someone else might not keep a little throw rug inside the front door to catch muddy shoes.

It was a bit of a stab, to think of that intruder in my—I mean this house. I was flooded with melancholy.

When we sold the last house, it was with relief. Zoning issues and an uncooperative and crooked borough government made us eager to leave and begin again somewhere fresh and untainted. I have never missed that old place.

This one is different. I do want to sell, for various reasons—but not because this place has ever let me down or disappointed me, not because this place fell short or became associated with negative things that I'd rather avoid. This place has been good to me, to us. I know it's just a place, yet I still feel a little pang when I think of it changing hands.

I want it to. But I don't. It's exciting to move; it's scary to move. We may not go anywhere, because perhaps no one else will see the charm and easy coziness of this small dwelling like I do... or we could get an offer this weekend, and set the wheels turning to start over again somewhere slightly south of the city.

I don't know how to feel, really. It's much easier to be callous than it is to actually care. I know that I am growing a tad weary of uncertainty, of tidying, of the daily reminders that I control nothing and must simply wait and pray and see.

It is hard to completely trust in God, but I'm doing my best. When we've been in challenging, uncertain times before this, Jesus has always shown up, and I'm going to see how He shows up in these circumstances, too.