Our deck is finally completed, the shower curtain rod has been replaced, our basement is organized, the banister repaired, and even the half bath remodeling job is well underway. I've never seen my husband so animated to fix things up around here and I've never felt more at home in this crazy, lovable, project-producing house. Yes, we have very nearly completed all the important projects and, in many ways, have finally made this place our own.
What is the secret to our sudden success? It should be obvious: We have put the house on the market.
We are moving. Again. In the (almost) ten years we have been married, we have moved seven times. Seven. In addition, should our house sell before the winter, the circumstances will require that we move into yet another temporary housing situation before we move again and finally settle into a more (dare I say it?) permanent, larger home.
The three years we have lived in this house have been the longest time period we have lived in any one place, and we aren't military! I won't drag you through all the reasons we moved when we did, let's just say that they were many. This time it is because we have outgrown the house. It was a perfect fit when we bought it, but we have brought home two baby boys in the last three years and the three older boys have grown, as children are known to do.
Moving is a very stressful and emotional experience. There are some benefits, however, and since I find myself in this position once again, I should focus on these. Moving frequently certainly encourages one to keep fewer possessions and live a simpler life. But more important than this, the constant uprooting and relocation of our family has helped me to focus my spiritual priorities.
Three of the happiest months of my life were spent living in a third floor apartment downtown. We lived there, while looking for a house, with Simeon, Alexander, Jacob, and I was expecting Zachary. It was winter, the people below us were constantly complaining that the boys were moving around too much (though the boys were really being very good about trying to keep things quiet), I did not have a car, and being pregnant, I had an especially hard time with the all the smells commonly found in apartment buildings. How could this unpleasant situation be among my happiest memories? Simply because, for the three months prior, the children and I had been separated from Jeremy on account of our move to Connecticut from out of state. It was such a joy to have our family, whole and entire, back together again under one roof that we did not care what kind of roof it was.
I think, too, of the man in today's gospel who asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. He was a good man, having kept the commandments since his youth, but when Jesus tells him that something more is required; that he must give away all that he has and follow the cross, he is grieved. He is unwilling to give up his wealth and the joys of this life in order to inherit the kingdom of God.
I think I would be just like that man. If, in this life, I had the wealth and joy and goodness he had, if I had the perfect home and the perfect homeschool, if my life was always beauty and leisure and innocent pleasure shared with those I love, I wouldn't want to give it up and take up a cross of suffering in pursuit of something eye has not seen nor ear ever heard. "No thank you," I would say, "Go on ahead without me."
God knows how much I like the good things of this life. He knows how hard it would be for me to give those things up for the sake of something greater. So, I sometimes think it is a special grace that God has, thus far, spared me that choice. I do not have wealth to cling to or great virtue and leisure to rest in. I am constantly in need of God's providence and mercy, and in this way, I am ever carrying a cross I did not choose to take up and following, with my petitions, after Him who is my only hope and my final home.