Before and After …

By now you’ve heard, I’m sure, that our house has sold. I didn’t have to endure the pain and suffering and time that I was expecting. I had, oh so, stoically prepared myself for the long haul. The weeks, the months of waiting that would ensue as we waited for someone, anyone to find our home appealing. Waiting for someone to appreciate the after having never seen the before.





It was all very easy however. The third person to look through our home made us an offer we couldn’t refuse and what’s more appreciated the after – she felt that the after was just the kind of home she wanted. She sat at our dining room table and said to our agent “this is it – this is home”. This made the unemotional experience that I’d signed up for very emotional. She loved our home, had to have it. I wanted her to have it … thankfully she didn’t ask for the table because at that moment in time I might just have handed it over too – and I love our table!




after …and we kept our table!

So then the next roller coaster began … what if she changed her mind – was she impulsive and prone to rash decisions? Was the cooling off period going to result in her ardor for our home cooling? No it didn’t – we’d made it through the five days. Her parents inspected – they too loved it … I started to question what was wrong with me then? Why was it not good enough for me..? Then I began to assess and reassess my motives… was I being ungrateful? Was I being discontent? Was I wanting to get bigger and better just for the sake of it? Of course the answer is no, unfortunately over-analysis comes naturally to me.

While the selling of our home appeared to come out of nowhere to a large number of people, it had been something we’d discussed on and off for a while. I felt strongly that this was where God had put us. This was where I should be content to stay. Gradually I came to the realisation that when the three pre-teens were at home, our space was shrinking. The one bathroom was working, but honestly, how much longer was that going to work in a 5 person household as appearance becomes more of a focus for the pre-teens? The boys sharing a room, while working like a charm now, wasn’t going to last and the 500m2 yard was rapidly becoming too small. The decision for us to move on was right, it was the wise thing to do. And if it was what God wanted for us then it would happen fairly quickly (and by quickly what I meant was within a few months – not over 3 days).
I’ve debated my way through this a few times over the years. Am I being ungrateful for what God has blessed me with? God knew we’d all end up here – before …so why isn’t it enough now?
I’m going to be honest I’ve struggled on and off with this space that I didn’t choose and trying to make it somewhere where I felt at home. Even writing it I’m aware I sound a little ungrateful about it. But the life that he and I are in is difficult. This house is a before house – it was bought by a single dad with two kids, kids who lived here one week on, one week off. But we felt it was important to stay put long enough for everyone to have some stability about the after we’d all embarked on.
It’s hard to enter a life that has been in existence before you – where majority of relationships pre-date you, the before. Where stories that are shared pre-date you, when reminiscing is something you have no part in. Now I know it works both ways. I’m sure anyone who has experienced this can relate to the emotional toll it takes. There are days when it hasn’t bothered me but then there are days when it has been excruciating. But it is a reality that occurs when you blend/join two lives. When each person has a before, there is a bitter sweetness that comes with this kind of life that few can understand and few experience. You have to squeeze yourself into a place where you don’t feel that you fit, a place where you have to live with the results and consequences of decisions that you had no part in making. And begin, living the after story …

I guess that’s why this move has become such a big thing for us/me.
The home we are hoping to move to is no palace – some have expressed as much to me and that’s fine. I have bitten my IMG_1407tongue once or twice. I want to say “but let’s be honest, I don’t want a palace – our family isn’t a fairy tale family.” Well there was that first date and the shoe, but beyond that, the fairytale analogy falls apart – well at least I hope so. Because any further progression into the fairy tale genre would make me a …???

Everyday won’t be a happily ever after.
We are a blended family – we need space for each one of us, we need our zones … we are a bit of a mismatch, a bit of a beautiful mess some days – our home needs to reflect that.

I guess what I want is for it to be home to us. What I’m struggling with in my moments of doubt is that I don’t seem to want enough, by other people’s standards. I’m happy most of the time that I don’t want the same things as everyone else. I think that’s something that comes with age and life experience. There are days when I realise that if I was the same as everyone else appears to be, then I would want different things and the not having of them would break my heart.
He explained very well the other night on the phone to someone when he said – “yeah, it needs some work – but you know what Anne’s like.”
To me that was one of the nicest things I’ve heard him say about me. You know he waxes quite lyrical in his praise at times – possibly a little too much but this meant a lot to me.
He knows that what I want is something I’ve never had – a home that’s mine, that I had some say in the selection of – that I have had some say in the arranging of the cutlery drawer – I know it sounds petty. This is a little thing but on a bad day it’s HUGE and on a bad day things like this take a toll. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think that a new home is the way to make life easier for us – in fact if we’re honest we are looking at a few projects straight up. But we’re all a work in progress. We have some hard days behind us we have some hard days ahead.

I guess the thing is that God knows what suited us before and what we will need after and allows us to transition and grow from one space to another, that is what it’s about.

We all have a before story and an after story.. It’s the after story that I’m most concerned with. It’s the after story we want. But the after story has to include change, it includes uncertainty, it includes faith, it has to include growth, it has to include development – not just a fresh coat of paint.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” C.S Lewis – Mere Christianity

Yes it probably has to include some pain, it has to include some pruning … but it has to include an increase in humility, a greater awareness of self and others and how those two relate to each other..

I want my after story to be so much more dazzling and spectacular than the before that God who was at times, somewhat of a stranger in my before story can say of the after – “this is it – this is home..”

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