On Saturday, I moved house.
I had no idea just how big and huge and stressful and yet, how blessed and amazing this experience would be.
But first, let me rewind to a couple of years ago.
The hunt for a house began officially in 2015. I initially registered with some estate agents and viewed quite a few places. I even made an offer on one, but if I’m honest, none of them filled me with the kind of fizzy excitement that I was promised would be mine, when I found the ‘right one’.
And then, just when I’d decided to park the idea until the new year, Number 9 popped up on Rightmove.
I liked the area where Number 9 was situated but didn’t particularly like the photos of the house. Furthermore, the street name was missing an apostrophe and everyone who knows me, knows that apostrophes are VERY, VERY important. Still, despite it all, I decided to book an appointment to go and see the house.
Surprisingly, as soon as we pulled up in front, something jumped in my heart and the minute we walked through the door, I just knew where the sofa was going to go.
This was ‘the one’.
Driving the car away later after an extended viewing, I actually pulled off into a side street to ring my financial advisor and ask him to do some number crunching to see if this was affordable. I really, really wanted it to be! Later, having a few doubts at the monumental decision I was about to make, I posted a poll on Twitter.
Could I live in a house in a street with a missing apostrophe? (Yes, I’m THAT sad!!)
I had replies from quite a few, but this one made me think.
I then had the lengthy process of mortgage-applying, valuation, all of that stuff, which was a mind-boggling mystery to me as a first time buyer, but somehow it all went through smoothly and I was given a completion date.
While all this was going on, I was busy picking carpets and colour schemes, but I also realised that in the huge rush, I’d forgotten to do one crucial thing.
I’d neglected to commit the whole process to God.
Of course, I’d prayed about it and I knew he was there, directing my steps anyway, but I’d not actively brought him in and asked for his help.
One night, I was at a Bethel concert with my friend Danielle from Manna Cards and as we worshipped, I had this lovely, clear picture of God’s presence already in place and filling my new home.
The house was stood empty at this point, I’d not even signed the paperwork, but somehow I KNEW he’d gone before me. His presence was already there, filling the rooms.
And man, I was going to need it.
Next began the process of emptying my current home. As it’s owned by a member of my family, I started assisting with some of the admin, getting the carpets replaced, showing estate agents round, arranging for pictures to be taken.
I was juggling that with trying to move into a new home as well as doing normal life and working full time at a job which is always busy.
And then it seemed, after such a smooth start, that suddenly everything was going wrong.
The new washing machine (despite measuring) was too big, the new carpet was too fluffy for the doors (the doors all needed to be removed and trimmed), the vinyl which was ordered was now out of stock, the attempts at painting a feature wall left dark splodges, the new TV stand was too small for the TV…and on and on. All decidedly ‘first world problems’ but each presenting their own set of stresses.
I had a group of lovely friends to help move (which was incredible) but in my mind, I was definitely carrying all the ‘heaviness’ and stress myself. Every time an issue popped up, my usual problem-solving nature did a backflip out the window, leaving me helpless and wondering what to do. I could feel this odd anxiety building.
But then I noticed another phenomena.
When a problem arose, every time I paused for just a few seconds and said, ‘Lord, I need a solution’ or just ‘help’, almost within the hour, I had my answer.
The shop agreed to take the TV stand back (despite the fact it had no labels or packaging), a friend on Facebook happened to know a carpenter who’d fix my doors (in return for pizza), the out-of-stock vinyl was replaced by a style I liked even better…and the list went on.
In the last few days, I’ve never been so aware of the concept of God as my ‘best friend’.
I’ve leapt from discouraged to elated within minutes, found ways and means to fix things that I didn’t even know were possible and above all, despite being tired and cranky some of the time, I have most definitely felt the presence of God in this new home. I have woken up in the wee hours, aware of his presence and my first ever set of visitors told me how peaceful the house felt.
God showed me (back at the Bethel concert) that he was already here and my goodness, how true that is.
And so, as I wrap this blog up, here’s a few things I’ve learned while trying to navigate my way through a pretty big project.
Ask God for help – even with the seemingly daft stuff
Screws won’t go into the wall? Spilled paint on a surface? Can’t figure out how to work the new washer? Ask God for help. Seriously! Yes, he’s busy maintaining the world but I absolutely believe he’s there for the small, mundane things as well.
Ask other people for help
I’m pretty self-sufficient (or so I thought!) but I’ve had to wave a white flag of surrender on more than one occasion recently. I have surrendered to the notion that I cannot do everything by myself and that it’s ok to ask for (and receive!) help. And when it’s offered and people tell you they do it because they love you, accept it. Accept that you’re loved with no strings attached and that sometimes, people just like to help. They just need to be asked.
Be kind to yourself
If you’re anything like me, you might put yourself under immense pressure to have everything done perfectly straight away.
Guess what? It’s not a competition. If some of the boxes are still there unpacked in 4 weeks, you won’t get a bad grade.
No one is watching, so go easy on yourself and take your time.
Junk food is ok (sometimes)
Sometimes it’s just ok to get your dinner from a drive thru! Dinner doesn’t always have to be home cooked from scratch or served on decent plates at a table.
If you don’t have a table (and have no idea where the plates even are!!!), just eat what you can. Your body likely won’t self-combust after living on takeaways for a few days.
You’re not alone
Whatever you’re going through, whether you’re surrounded by support or not, you’re never alone.
Loneliness is often very little to do with the amount of people in your life and more to do with an internal feeling of aloneness.
Big changes, projects and upheavals can all contribute to that feeling of aloneness…but guess what? With God in the picture, none of us are ever alone. He’s promised to stick closer than a brother and he’s right there where when we need him most. It doesn’t mean that everything gets fixed with the click of a finger, but it DOES mean we can lean on him in the heat of the moment.
And so today, sitting here surrounded by boxes, a washer which doesn’t quite fit and doors hanging off, I’m at peace.
This house is the dream house I never thought was even possible and every time I run up and down the stairs, I am breathing out thanks to my Father who made it all possible.
I am blessed beyond everything I could have imagined. And I’m blessed not just because of this precious, totally unexpected gift, given when I was just about to give up, but because no matter what we go through, God is already there.