an open letter to the new owners of our old house
Selling a house is a strange thing. The feeling of possession and greed sneak in like nagging summer mosquitoes buzzing in your ear that everything is "mine, mine, mine!" How quickly it all becomes personal as you watch your house personify itself as a being with lungs and skin, a heartbeat and hands. How could it, this house that has itself engulfed so much of my own tears and joys, belong to someone else? You unfold the new boxes - tape gun and sharpie in hand and start labeling your life. Compartmentalizing not just each article in your home, but pieces of your heart. I wasn't prepared for the way it would feel. Peeling back all the layers of the years in our home, speckled with milestones and tiny everyday life details. All the things that you could never know. You being strangers. Having never met, you walk into what seems an empty house not being able to feel the weight of all the glorious life that we, through pain and through joy, filled that house with from our first day in as the two of us to the moment we locked the front door and walked out the back as the five of us.
The heart of man is tricky thing. While I long for you to love your new home, I hold on to the whispers of those mosquitoes - that it is mine and you could never experience the joy that we did. But I know that the buzzing pests are lies and destruction that suck joy from moments and breed in stagnant places of the heart. And so, though I know you purchased our house and it belongs to you in deed, I want to give you my house. I want to bequeath to you all the joy and lessons it gave to me. I want to share with you the truth that though my hands fight to cling to the tangible and my heart mourns this goodbye, that my true home was then and is now elsewhere.
There are two hydrangea bushes in the front side of the yard. I don't remember the exact catalyst, but oh what a fight David and I had over them during their planting! Good arguments are one of those strangely glorious things that redeem us through pain. While I don't remember the subject of the fight, I remember the growth that bloomed in our hearts even surer then those mauve and blue hydrangea blooms. Feeling more known not only by my husband, but also knowing my own heart deeper as we struggled to die to our own pride and selfish desires. True forgiveness means taking the fall for someone. It means the other person no longer pays the penalty for their wrong. It quite literally can feel like death. My hope for you as you look at those bushes is that you find each other worth dying for - in the big moments and in the small.
There was the day that my twin sister lost her son at 22 weeks. I couldn't breathe - my lungs sucked dry. There in the front room I wailed a deep guttural wail. Upon hearing the news, my friend Annie walked through the door. She held me. She helped us pack and move our slumbering children to the car and told us to go. We drove through the night as she took care of the house. Friends show up. In your joy and your sorrows and your most scatterbrained of days, they show up. Without being asked and even when you might be convinced you don't want them and it might just be easier to hide your own neediness, they show up. My hope for you is that your front door ushers in many a friend who shows up for you and that with open arms of vulnerability and desire, that you let them.
There was the day in early spring when the sun was tauntingly warm and we had just finished the second level of our fort. No roof yet, my family basked in the sun. My two oldest children slowly losing articles of clothing and replacing it with layers of mud. As they giggled up the stairs in their new mud monster forms, David and I welcomed them in all their mess and soon too were stained in dirt and water. We laid up there together, mud baking onto our skin and in our hair until the evening clouds started their arrival and we grudgingly headed inside for baths and dinner. It would have been easy to say no. To stay clean and tidy. Parenthood is messy. Beautifully so, it is messy. But the very best part of having children is the way they beckon us to relinquish all the rules and properness of adulthood - to make sacrifice of what is "right" for what is true. That a child's wonder and creativity and desire for affection and time, far outweighs the costs of a load of laundry and your second shower of the day or the late arrival to the next event. My hope for you is that you are blessed with children of your own. That you will fully enter into all their messes, the mud pies and the messes of their own growing wills. They will wreck you. You will get messy (very messy). My hope is that you will find it worth it.
There is so much more I could tell you about this house. How our best friend Doug lived with us every weekend before we had children and we played Super Nintendo and built a swing on the front tree and a 10 foot snowman in the backyard. Or that the original owner of the house, RuthAnne, came by the house and told us it's history. How we danced and pillow fought with our kids loud and crazy after bedtime. Or the family of 10 who lived across the street in the tiny house before it was torn down. How we moved into the addition just two nights before Henry was born. This precious house. My oldest, five-years-old, said it best yesterday, "our sweet house was so good to us." And it was. It served us well. We learned forgiveness, friendship, sacrifice, and the depths of both joy and pain -- lessons we know we won't stop learning as we change addresses.
My hope for you is that you will love this house not as much as we did, but even more than we did. Above all, my hope for you is that as much as you grow to love this house that you would know it is not your true home. Though I was tempted to forget it as I packed the boxes and signed the papers, in all its wonderful memories and lessons, this house is just a house. It is wood and windows and doors, siding and roof. That's all. Home is where I was created in a secret place before the foundations of the earth and before the stars were set into being. Home is where a God who made himself man to save his people and breathe life now sits, waiting for the day he comes back and makes all the dead and the sad of the world come undone. Home is where there is no heartache, no loss, no brokenness, no more goodbyes. My hope for you is that you too call this place home.
With great joy,