Sometimes God wants us to be content with where we are.
Sometimes He pushes us out of contentment because He wants us to move to something different.
It’s a lesson that has taken me a while to learn. I had known the one about being content with where we are. The part about being pushed out of contentment was new to me. The idea was first introduced by a friend of mine. She taught second grade for over ten years. Then, she had a really horrible year. Her second-grade colleagues were hateful. One of her students brought a gun to school. She spent the year upset, stressed out, and exhausted. Finally, a position opened up in fifth grade, and she thought about taking it, but she wondered if she was just trying to escape, if she was failing in being content. But over this past year teaching fifth grade for the first time in over a decade — and loving it — she realized that God pushed her out of that situation in order to get her some place different.
Stephan and I have been looking at houses and property for a long, long time. Probably for eight years, at least. Just dreaming, hoping that someday we would be able to move out of town and into the country. Dreaming of the house we’d build. Dreaming of a place where we would have room to have a big garden, to raise chickens and rabbits and honeybees, room to have his business on our own property instead of renting a place a few miles from home.
Mostly, it just felt like dreaming. Every couple of years, we’d get on a kick where we’d drive around and look at property, or get online and look at house plans. But we were never in a financial position to take any action. We just liked looking. We’d talk about things we liked and things we didn’t. We’d just imagine things together. It was often a fun date on a summertime Sunday afternoon — driving around, looking, talking, dreaming.
Last fall, though, I determined I had to stop looking. I was getting really discontent. Every time I looked at a place, I became more dissatisfied with where we were. And I wanted to be content with where God had us. Isn’t that what He wants? For me to be content with where He has me? So I looked for all the good things about our home. We have pretty good neighbors. We can walk to the bank, the park, the library, the post office, the dollar store. The actual house is pretty nice, and we have improved it since we first moved in.
But this spring, I started to feel closed in. We have a mere eighth of an acre, and it felt like it was getting smaller every day. The privacy fence felt confining rather than secluding. The neighbors seemed too close. The yappy dogs never seemed to stop barking. The trains that rumbled by on the tracks just a block and a half away seemed to get louder (as if that were even possible!) I felt like insanity was creeping in, but I tried to push it down. I tried to force myself to be content, but it was hard. I felt closed in. I couldn’t breathe.
On Sunday, May 4, I finally broke down. I was just so unhappy. After church, my friend and my sister-in-law noticed that something wasn’t right, and I just began to sob. I haven’t cried so hard in years. It was the kind of crying where jagged breaths take over and you can’t talk at all. I felt like I was being completely stupid. God had given us this great house in a great neighborhood, and all I could think about what how much I hated where we were living. They prayed with me. I went home, and struggled for a while in putting words to my tears, but I finally was able to explain it to Stephan. We decided that we would begin looking again. We could be prepared and open, but not put our hope in anything we might find. Our financial position is far better than it was three or four years ago, so it wasn’t a complete fantasy to think that possibly we could afford something.
That Tuesday, I began to think that maybe God pushed me out of my contentment for a reason. Maybe He wanted me to prepare to move, to think about and look at land and houses. But I couldn’t figure out why. Sure, we’ve saved a decent amount of money over the past several years, but I didn’t think it would be enough for a down payment on property. And our own home is not market-ready.
Thursday we looked at a house. The property was nice, but the house was too big and the price was too high. Stephan also decided he wanted to have at least five acres so that the county can’t restrict things like livestock. I felt a little more discouraged because I couldn’t fathom having the kind of money a five-acre plot of land would require. But we thought that in the next three years, we could save enough, and in the meantime, we could keep looking and be prepared.
Friday, May 9, I was reading Deuteronomy. Chapter 28, verse 8 says, “The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.”
Saturday, May 10, we looked at another place. It was on five absolutely beautiful acres. It had everything we wanted: a pole barn for the business; open, full-sun area for a big garden; wooded area for hikes and hunting; lots of mature trees in the yard. There was an old manufactured home that needed work, but we thought it was workable until we could afford to build our own. And the property was bank-owned (as the result of a foreclosure), so the price actually seemed doable for us. Now. Not in three years.
Most of all, I felt like I could breathe. And that was a feeling I hadn’t had in months.
We checked on financing. It seemed possible.
On Friday, May 16, we made an offer. The following Monday the bank-owner made a counter-offer. We countered back. On Thursday, May 22, our counter-offer was accepted, and on Friday the 23rd, Stephan and I signed paperwork to make the offer official.
And today, we closed. This property is ours.