Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Past I Drive By Every Day

I pick up my daughter from school every weekday afternoon, and I usually take the same route.  And as I was driving to her school yesterday, it dawned on me that I drive by my past every single day!  That may not make any sense, but let me explain.  What I actually drive by is this cute little white house with shutters every morning and every afternoon.  It is a simple, rectangular house with a red front door that is only about 800 sq. feet.  But when I am not in my dazed auto-drive mentality (or trying to reach the toy my 2-year-old has dropped and is sobbing about) and I really look and think about it, a ton of my best moments happened in that little white house.

Sometimes I get teary-eyed when I think about all the wonderful and horrible things that occurred while I lived in that cute little box with shutters!  It was my first major purchase (besides a college education, I guess).  I had just graduated from college, and I was ready to start adulting (although I officially hate that word - adult is a noun, not a verb).  My best friend, Jessica, was my roomie, and I was loving my first teaching job (well, the second year I started loving it - the first year, I was stressed).  We had a blast in that house - just two single gals living it up!  We had so much fun hosting international college students for dinner and holidays, having camp outs in the front yard with our friends, and lots of chic flick nights where we would invite all our other single gal friends, watch movies, and talk about our hopes and dreams until stupid o'clock in the morning.  I'm sure I said really sappy things about the man I would marry and the kids we would have... and that Gibson guitar I was going to buy, even though I had no idea how to play it (still don't).

This is my sophisticated map that I drew for clarification... or at least just for my own nerdiness.  It probably isn't very accurate!  But I know some people are visual, so here is my faulty attempt to include those people.

What is hilarious about that is that I had no idea my dream guy was living it up in his bachelor pad with his 3 roommates just two blocks away!  I drive by this house every afternoon too.  It just happens to be down the street from my daughter's school, and going that way makes a loop back to our current house.  It has been updated since he lived there, thankfully: it was pretty bad as most bachelor pads go!  Now as I drive by, I wonder if anyone has finally replaced that awful green carpet that had a huge hole in the middle, or replaced all the mismatched couches.  It is funny that I didn't even meet him until at least 6 months or more after I moved in just 2 blocks away, and we didn't even meet near our houses!  I started attending a new church after that next New Year, and there he was... although, at the time he was just another friend in our 20-somethings group.  We were all just a bunch of single folks spending our evenings playing music, experimenting with how to cook real food, and having a few laughs.  We often would host these evenings at my house.

And while that sounds so fun (maybe, I guess it could sound pretty lame to a lot of you), I also have at least 2 full journals from this time period in my life where I went through major depression.  I completely understand when I read about Millennials who have all this free-time to pursue anything they want, and yet they struggle with depression more than any previous generation.  There is this weird sense of purposelessness sometimes in your early 20s, when you are kind of floating and aren't sure where you want to land.  Back then I was working so hard all the time, and I had recently broken up with a boyfriend who had been a dear friend beforehand... and even though the rest of life was going well, I was disappointed and aimless.  My bitterness with God grew and grew, to the point where I would get angry with any godly encouragement.  It got so bad that I even moved all my roommate's stuff out of the house one day while she was at work (she is a very sweet, encouraging woman of God)... of course, I had it all moved back in by the time time she got home from work.  I was lonely, even though I had a ton of loving family and friends.  I was questioning God, even though I was learning so much of His truth at this new church.  And I felt like a failure, even though I was a homeowner and an educator at the age of 22... but I kept all my depression in that little cute house every time I went out.  I hid it all within those walls and those journal pages, and my roommate was gracious enough to not call me out on it when I was faking my way through social event after social event.

I lived in that house for 4 years before Kyle and I started dating, and I had only really started liking him 6 months before that.  I mean, he was just down the street and around the corner for 3 1/2 years that I was moping around about being single and miserable.  And then all of a sudden, he was mine, and he only lived down the street and around the corner!!!  We would go on walks, he would walk me home.  We had our first Christmas as a couple in that living room.  He stayed with me while I waited on the police the night that house was robbed.  And several months later we spent our wedding night in that house.  I became a wife in that house, cooking and cleaning.  He became the husband I always hoped for in that house - you know, mowing, taking the trash out, and trapping and killing a few mice (my hero, for sure)!  We had our first fight about arranging furniture in that house.  We did our first bathroom remodel there.  And he held me while I sobbed the night my grandpa died in that bedroom.

It is a really long story, but we moved back into that same little white house when our daughter was almost 2 years old.  And then we made even more animated memories - Emersyn potty-training, dressing up as Dory for Halloween, and "helping" me bake cookies.  Our son was conceived in that house, and all my afternoon "morning" sickness took place in that bathroom.  Many days of that pregnancy, I was so thankful our house was very small, because I could sleep and ignore our 2-year-old daughter while she was practically always within arm's reach if she got into something she shouldn't.  I remember giving her horsey rides on my back while having my 8-month-in-utero son on my front.  We had lots of tea parties, and when it snowed, we brought a tub full of snow into that living room for Emersyn to play with.

We brought our son home from the hospital to that house, and he slept in the living room since I didn't want him waking his older sister up in the middle of the night... although when you live in 800 sq. feet, everyone is going to wake up anyway.  His bassinet, swing, and diapers were all kept in the living room - along with his Boppy pillow and my recliner that I nursed him in...

I guess you get it by now... I have a lot of great memories in these houses that I drive by every day.  But my point isn't so much that as it is that God had a plan for my life all along, and I had absolutely no idea ahead of time what it was going to be.  I bought that house because it was cheaper to buy than rent.  It was more of a financial decision than one that would change my life, grow me in ways I didn't think possible.

But God knew.

And even more amazing is that as we lived in this tiny house with two kids, with all our stuff busting at the seams... God knew that a house with the perfect layout for our life was only 5 blocks away.  I wonder if I ever drove by it and didn't even give it a glance?  If I looked at it, I know I didn't give it a second thought... and yet, here I am living in that house that I never could have afforded if it hadn't been in foreclosure.  A house that is big enough to host college students and play dates, but small enough to keep it somewhat clean.  A house where my son learned to crawl, walk, and love "Masha and the Bear".  This house where my daughter has had several birthday parties and learned how to count to 10.  This house where women have studied scripture together, and college students have discussed how the Gospel changes our worldview.  This home where I have often lost at Settlers of Catan, or cleaned house while blaring Audrey Assad worship music, and miscarried my 3rd baby.  And here is where my husband and I have measured our marriage in various awesome TV series(es?)... ("This Is Us" is our current jam)...

And when I sat down with this amazing thought and drew it all out on a little map (that is probably not to-scale... I'm not a cartographer)... I had to laugh at the irony and be in awe of God's planning.  So much of my life that I longed for beforehand, or even shook my fist at God in bitterness at His withholding it all from me, ended up unfolding before my eyes within a few blocks' radius!  And I had absolutely no clue at how great it would be when He finally gave it to me!

Only God can do that.  And I am thankful that none of my other stupid ideas on how to get my dreams to come about came to fruition... because it happened when and WHERE He wanted it to... and I now see how beautifully planned out it all was... and still is.

And now I get to be gently reminded of this marvel every day - such a profound realization as I go about a simple errand... driving by my past, in my present, looking forward to whatever the future God holds for me.

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