When my husband finished his Physics PhD last summer, he was offered a research fellowship at CU Boulder. Colorado seemed like a great place to move our growing family and we were excited about all the prospects.
Add to that - there were three of us living in our 450 square foot cottage in Berkeley and we were soon to welcome a fourth to our little clan. Finding a new place to live was feeling pretty pressing.
His research fellowship flew us out in August for a house-hunting trip. A friend of a friend helped us find a realtor.
We had never bought a house before. There was so much to think about, so many things to consider. Would it be in “right” neighborhood? What was the resale potential? Did we like carpet or hardwood floors?
But, being that I am an unashamed HGTV binge watcher, I loved it every minute. Looking at houses. Imagining where the piano would go. Dreaming about meals around a new table.
We found “the house” a couple hours into our search.
A cute ranch style with a little room to grow into. A quiet neighborhood with tree lined streets. A park around the corner to play with the boys.
Also - two closets in the master bedroom. Yes and amen.
Before putting in an offer, we decided to tour university housing, where dorms were available for families working at the college. As we walked through the apartments, various pungent food smells filled the hallways. The concrete townhouse units were small and built like army bunkers. There were mattresses in the dumpsters marked “bedbugs”.
Chris didn’t even have to ask me what I thought.
Our offer on the house was accepted and we were overjoyed.
Shortly before closing, Chris’ new boss called to let him know that he had taken new position and would be moving his lab, including his research equipment and personnel, to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The move was set to take place the following summer.
Michigan! We hadn’t even got to Colorado yet. Were we really going to move only to move again a few months later?
And what about the house?
I told Chris he needed to find a new job in Colorado, that it was the only thing that made sense. We could still buy the house, still move our family, he would just work somewhere else.
I liked our plan, I planned our plan, I was on-board with our plan. I did not want the plan to change.
But then, God began to soften my heart.
What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of missing this opportunity. It’s a great house.
There’ll be other houses. What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of not having anywhere to live.
I hold the whole world in my hands. What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of not being in control of our future, of not knowing what comes next.
I am in control, I hold your future.
And there it was.
I was disappointed, fairly. I was surprised and unsure what to do next. But really I was afraid. Afraid to let go of the life I had imagined in my head, the life in the little ranch house. The safe, beautiful, two closet life that I had picked out for myself.
But there was another life in front of me.
A life with Chris, who wanted the freedom to say yes to Michigan if it was the right thing for his career.
A life with two boys who needed a mama that says yes to God’s leading more than a house on a tree-lined street in the suburbs.
A life living in the in-between for awhile, without a long-term plan, surrendering control to the One who’s always proven himself faithful.
Jesus said this world is not our home. He meant that we're not supposed to get too comfortable here, too attached to what we have. If we really buy into life in His kingdom, then we can't hold on to any plan very firmly or any thing very tightly.
But we can always trust that if we let Him lead us in His kingdom way, His plans are for our good, to prosper and not harm us, to make us more fully into His image.
Guess where we're living? Yep, good ol' bunker style university family housing.
And I love it.
We have new friends from all over the world, including buddies who we swap child-care with, a stunning view of the mountains, a maintenance crew that’s quick to fix what’s broken, a playground 2 minutes from our front door and more than enough room for our post-grad school belongings. It’s small and (usually) tidy and it feels like home.
Laying down a dream is never easy. But God is in the business of making all things new.
New dreams in new homes.
And, thankfully, new hearts.
What about you - have you ever given up a dream? Has the outcome surprised you? I’d love to hear about it.