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On November 15th, Tim and I will have owned our home for six months. To say that homeownership has been a process would be an understatement. We’ve repainted four rooms but still have unpacked boxes upstairs and random pieces of furniture jigsawed into our living room. We’ve been utterly mesmerized by the lifespan of our enormous grapevine and the abundance of stray cats who enjoy our backyard. We’ve been toilet papered, forked, and Saran wrapped all at one time but got cookies and a freshly mowed lawn out of the deal. Overall, I love having a house, but it’s certainly been an adventure.
If you hadn’t guessed by the post title, I recently (and by recently I mean this Spring. Parts of this post were drafted before my pregnancy blogging hiatus.) finished reading my first book by Gary Thomas – the author behind Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Sacred Pathways, and Simply Sacred among others. His books focus on the idea that God uses the ordinary to shape our souls. After about a week, I could attest that homeownership is one of those ordinary things that God uses to make us look more like Him.
I woke up multiple times during that first week wondering what the heck we had done. Paying for laundry, putting up with blasting techno music and our neighbors garish holiday decorations began to seem like a paltry trade-off for endless cleaning and unpacking. The first time we ran our washing machine, the bathtub filled up with chunky, gray water. After all the dollar signs involved with buying a house, that couple hundred we paid to have a plumber deal with the roots that were apparently choking our pipes almost put me over the edge.
Our first month of homeownership confirmed that a key to a new house doesn’t unlock the American dream. Homeownership has, however, been part of the refining process of our relationship and level of responsibility.
I wasn’t at my best during those first few weeks (and some subsequent weeks after) of homeownership. For this perfectionist, unpacking was almost worse than packing. I was stressed and tired and, come to find out, newly pregnant. All of which necessitated a huge extra helping of grace. I am still learning to humbly accept my energy limits and welcome Tim’s gentle reminders that resting is important.
Not only did the physical tasks of setting up our home stretch and strengthen our relationship, so also did talking through the philosophy behind owning our home. Our desire was to have an open-handed approach to homeownership, knowing full well that this house was God’s gift, not a right. In that, we needed to discuss where our priorities were: how we wanted to use the house and how simply we wanted to live. Communication is something I admittedly struggle with, so those conversations didn’t come naturally but continue to refine who we are as a couple and who we are as followers of Christ.
Our newest sacred-maker is more practical. We are in the process of redoing the flooring in our entire house. The emerald green carpet is being replaced with a nice neutral and the vinyl is being upgraded to a wood finish. But those aesthetic improvements come with a price tag. Money is often a source of contention for couples and though Tim and I see eye-to-eye on most financial matters, forking over large sums of money generally stresses me out. We had to revamp our existing budget (hooray for money dates!) and commit to a more reserved lifestyle to factor in this expense over the next six months.
More communication. More teamwork.
All this communication and teamwork has been beneficial – not easy, but beneficial. We’ve learned about stewardship and maintaining a healthy relationship under stress. I didn’t necessarily sign up for homeownership with those two things in mind, but God has a way of using the ordinary for His purposes.