Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The Blessings of "NO"
Most of you know that Sir Knight and I have had the desire to sell our homestead and move for a number of years. When we originally bought our property, we had intended to live here forever. We even purchased land with very few zoning requirements, hoping that one day we could subdivide and provide our children with plots of land to build their own homes, essentially creating a family "compound".
As our children grew older, our hopes and desires changed. We found ourselves longing to move closer to my parents, to have our children grow up near their grandparents. We wanted to become a community of generational living - all having our own homes, but in close enough proximity to shoulder each others burdens and share in each others daily lives.
Having a clear direction, we put our property on the market and began looking at options in the vicinity of my parent's. Convinced that we would be moving shortly, I spent weeks packing all but the essentials and storing the boxes tidily in the horse trailer - anxiously awaiting moving day.
Quickly, we found the perfect property for our family. It was a HUGE old house on 20 acres, complete with a barn, chicken house, garage and two ponds. The house was rambling and quirky and full of character - a perfect fit. The children had picked out their rooms and I was redecorating the house in my mind. My thoughts were filled with hope and joy. We made an offer on the house (full price, even) with the condition that our property sold. Our offer was summarily rejected. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Sir Knight and I talked and planned and gave it another shot. We made yet another offer, sweetening the pot, but to no avail. Our offer was rejected again. I was crushed.
The truth of the matter is that even if the homeowners had accepted our offer, our property hadn't sold. An accepted offer wouldn't have made a whole hill of beans difference, we couldn't buy our dream property. God had spoken. The answer was "NO".
That was the beginning of a cycle of highs and lows, impossible hopes and dashed dreams. Over the next few years, we would find ourselves hoping against hope that this property or that was finally the "one", only to be told "NO". My best girlfriend's mother decided to sell their family home. I had practically grown up there - it had to be the one! NO. A piece of property came for sale right down the road from my folks (where there is very little privately-held land - and it never goes up for sale) - that was the perfect piece! NO. Again and again and again, our dreams evaporated.
I would like to say that I took all of this gracefully, with perfect peace and contentment, but the truth is that I raged inside. I cried and I questioned and I felt abandoned by God. I kept thinking that if I just did all of the right things, if I tried harder, that everything would fall into place. It seemed, however, that the harder I tried to make things happen, the more resounding the NO became.
I felt trapped. My best efforts where for naught. Our circumstances were less than desirable, but we couldn't seem to change them. We couldn't sell, we couldn't move, we couldn't even change our current living arrangements without going into untenable debt.
I have to admit it - I was angry with God. I had watched Him bless many of our friends abundantly, extravagantly - yet His constant answer to our family was NO. No, you can't sell. No, you can't move. No, you can't live in a house. No, you can't enjoy the ease and comfort of a normal life - even for a little while. No, Sir Knight can't get a job that is easier on his body. No, no, no! And the worst part? I hated my lack of faith. I hated the fact that I questioned God. In my head I knew of His faithfulness, His goodness. In my head I knew that His plan for our family was perfect. I just couldn't see the forest through the trees and I hated my lack of vision. I was broken.
So, what did I do? I hit my knees and cried out to my Lord. I told Him of my anger. I poured out my soul. I asked for His forgiveness for my lack of faith. I begged Him to sustain me through the valley of unbelief. I prayed to desire His will alone and to live my life according to the will of my Father. I practiced contentment, reminding myself of His many blessings on a daily, even hourly basis. I sought to understand the very character of God.
I am so thankful that God loved me enough to tell me NO. Through the years of disappointments and struggles, God has drawn me closer to Him. He has shown me the depths of His love and the reservoirs of His grace. He has taught me that we can't earn His favor, yet He delights in giving good gifts to His children, even when they don't deserve them. He has taught me that His best work is often done under the shadow of grief and that hope is renewed every morning. He has taught me that when I am at the end of my human strength, He will uphold me with His mighty right hand. He has given me eyes to see and ears to hear - and that alone is worth every disappointment and every hour of suffering.
And here we are. We still have not sold our property. We still have no prospects of moving nearer my parents. Sir Knight still works at a job that is very hard on his every joint and muscle. We still don't live in a house. We still have hopes and dreams and desires unfulfilled. Our circumstances have not changed - but my faith has. Every morning I wake with a mind filled with hope. Not necessarily the hope of selling and moving and having an easier life, but the hope that God's perfect will will be done - that He is still on His throne and that He holds me in the palm of His hand. I have the hope and the assurance that whatever God does with this family is right - whether it is accomplished here in "Little Shouse on the Prairie" or in the mountains of my youth. I am exactly where God wants me!
If God had allowed all of the desires of my heart to be immediately and completely fulfilled, I would never have experienced the blessings of being told "No". I would not have raged and questioned and cried until finally falling to my knees in submission. I would never have scratched the surface of my faith.
I still would love to sell and move. I would love to live in a house and see my husband working at a job that is not so physically draining. But I am content. I am content because I know that I can trust God with our lives. I know that His plan is to prosper us and not to harm us. And I know that being in the center of His will is exactly where I want to be.