When Home Feels like a Fixer-Upper
by Amy K. Sorrells
My husband and I stood and stared at the scalding hot water pouring onto the bare plywood floor of the bathroom we are remodeling. Neither of us knew how exactly to go about plugging a hole in a water main. Finally, the shock wore off. I grabbed nearby towels and stuffed them around the split copper pipe, and my husband ran to the basement to shut off the water. Thankfully, the plumber was scheduled to come the next day, and the neighborhood pool made a great stand-in for showers that evening.
Do-it-yourself projects look really easy, all smiles and shiplap, until something like this happens.
Take raising kids, for instance.
Our oldest son just celebrated his twentieth birthday, and I’m not quite sure how that happened. Nor am I quite sure how two of our three children are in college, and the third not far behind. Giving birth to these three sons and raising them has been the absolute joy of my life, their activities and antics filling our home with celebrations and busyness and blessings.
Now that they’re leaving the nest, however, I find myself feeling a lot like that busted water main, my heart spilling all over the floor, emotions leaking everywhere, and I’m not exactly sure how to stop it. It’s the little things that set me off, like driving by the small pond and wondering why I didn’t take them fishing that one last time they asked. Or finding a box of their beloved board books from when they were toddlers in the back of a closet and wondering when they stopped reading them. Or walking past the shell of a room of the college student. Or starting to put a case of fruit smoothies in my grocery cart, only to realize that my son who drinks them won’t be home for weeks.
Maybe your home looks different these days because you’re empty nesting, too. Or maybe you’ve just brought your first child home. Or maybe you’re having to move an aging parent in with you, or a young adult who’s wayward and returning. Home is the best place in the world when it feels the same. But the imbalance of a changing home can be a challenge.
In the midst of any kind of change, it’s awfully good to know that the Lord stays the same, and in doing so, to remember some of His key promises. The waters may be rough at times—or flowing from busted water main—but at least we can know we are tied fast to the moorings of His faithfulness. Here’s five that help me:
Allow yourself to grieve. Remember Jesus wept when He felt loss. While launching kids from the nest is in many ways a blessing, any major life change means a loss of the life prior to that, and it’s okay to let ourselves work through that. No heart cry is too big or too small to bring to the Lord. Psalm 22:24 (NLT) says, “For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.”
Practice thankfulness. This is not new advice, but oh how often I forget it, and how good it truly is to give thanks to the Lord! When I am overwhelmed with melancholy, how quickly my heart responds when I remember to thank Him for every year and milestone I’ve had with my children, and for this new season of enjoying them as young men. I know for sure I’m thankful they’re doing their own laundry! Psalm 92:2 reminds us to thank the Lord for His steadfast love in the morning, and His faithfulness at night, in the beginning and ending of the life chapters and seasons within our homes.
Practice pondering. I just love Luke 2:19, which tells us Mary treasured all the moments of Jesus’ young life. One version says she gave them careful thought and treasured them. Whether pouring over scrapbooks or replaying the images of our children’s at-home years in our hearts, the fact that this is recorded in the Bible tells us God gave us memories to cherish and enjoy, and indeed to treasure.
Press on. As the cliché says, life is a marathon and not a sprint. I didn’t fully appreciate this imagery until I was the mom of cross country runners and watched as they pushed themselves in agony across wide open fields, up the steepest of hills, and through the lowest of valleys; in sunshine and in wicked rain and sleet. Though we would like for life and home to remain constant, the Lord reminds us in Philippians 3:14 that life is a journey that we’re called to press through, and that our ultimate home is in Heaven, with Him.
Remember verse 29. Just because all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) doesn’t mean all things that happen to us are, or feel, good. Often forgotten verse 29 says the good happens when all things work together to help make us more like Christ. When I’m in the middle of life change, I can find peace knowing God can use this time to help me grow closer to, and be more like Him.
It’s okay if your home, literally or proverbially, is a fixer-upper. Busted pipes and broken hearts happen, even when professionals are involved. The important thing to remember is that life isn’t do-it-yourself, and that we have a Carpenter who never leaves us alone.
Amy K. Sorrells is an award-winning author of three novels, a columnist, and a long-time believer in the power of story to change lives. She lives in central Indiana with her husband and three sons.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.