Close to thirteen years ago, my husband and I decided it was time to buy a new home. Ours was very small, and we were looking to expand our family. The problem was that the housing market was exploding. Houses were going for unheard of prices and being snapped up within hours of being listed. Everyone told us that we needed to hurry and buy then because the market would only continue to rise.
So we started house hunting and by the time we could go look at a house, it would be sold. Finally we were able to see a house – and we loved it. As soon as we entered it, I knew that I wanted that house. We made an offer – and promptly entered a bidding war. I begged God to allow us to get the house, and He taught me that no matter which way it ended up, His way was best. After I submitted to His will, we got word that they had accepted our offer.
Shortly after our purchase, the housing market took a dip. We decided to put some equity in our house, and made some improvements (adding to our already sizable debt). And then the housing market completely crashed. We found ourselves underwater with massive debt, and the knowledge that we had no idea how to manage our finances. It was a painful process to figure out how to get out of debt, learn to budget (and keep it), and get back on our feet. God helped us in ways that far exceeded anything we could have imagined, and we knew we didn’t deserve His help, but He graciously supplied it anyway.
In the process of getting our finances into a better place, our home fell into disrepair. We couldn’t afford to make fixes that were necessary let alone cosmetic issues. We watched our home slowly deteriorate and could do nothing to help it if we wanted to avoid getting into debt again. (After being in that pit, we did not want to go back.) I became embarrassed when we’d have people over. I could see them study the areas that needed repair although they never said anything. I wanted to shout, “I know it needs work, but we can’t afford it!”, but I kept my mouth closed.
Only recently, have we finally saved up enough to do some major exterior work that needed done. The damage was so bad that I was beginning to question the structural integrity of our house. We needed to replace all the wood siding, the support posts, beams, and faschia board, take down the pergola in our backyard – and while we were at it, replace the front door, and put insulation in the ceiling since that apparently was optional in Arizona during the 1960s. And then when that was all done, we’d have to paint the house. It was a big job, but I felt certain that with enough help, we’d knock it out in a weekend.
In Tucson, we have rodeo break in February. For two days the schools all close because the rodeo is in town. It’s a unique holiday that every newcomer to Tucson is shocked by, and every Tucsonan loves. We had decided that this was the best time to work on the house. We never know when the temperatures are going to get hot, so it seemed best to take advantage of the cool weather. With the help of Joel’s parents, his uncle, my grandparents and parents, we worked hard on the home for four days straight – and barely made a dent! It was so frustrating to see the work progress so slowly.
With more realistic expectations, I figured that the following weekend we could at least get another chunk done. Then I watched as simply putting in the front door took two full days. My frustration increased. Then followed a couple of weekends where we were busy and no work could be done. So our house is still sitting half done (probably not even half done), and we wait.
I was thinking about this project today, and how long it was taking. I had wanted to get this job done so quickly, and have instead watched it drag out week after week. I’m the same way in my personal life though. When I become aware of sin, I want it fixed now. I want to be free from the temptation, the desire to do that this instant so I can move on. I want to be fixed up and refreshed, and no longer have to be embarrassed about my life. Instead, it’s a long process with set backs. I have to push through, rely on God’s help, ask forgiveness (repeatedly), and pray that each day will bring me closer to my goal.
The same thing works in relationships. Trust is broken, people are hurt, and we want it to be repaired immediately. But it doesn’t work that way, it takes time, care, forgiveness.
Although I would love for my house to be finished, to see it repaired, and lovely again (on the outside – I can’t even think about the inside right now), it’s going to take time and effort. And even though I’d love to see my life be a reflection of Christ now, to no longer struggle with sin or temptation, it’s a process. Paul often referred to it as a race – and not a sprint, but a marathon. We keep pressing on, and keep pressing on, and someday we’ll reach our final goal and receive the prize. Until then I need to be patient, keep persevering, and trust God.