I’m a list-maker. I’ve done this all my life. It helps me take stock for the day (month/year/situation, etc.) and figure out the next thing to do. List-making has the additional benefit of creating order and making me really think about how things should be approached and prioritized. I’ve found that really helpful in situations of stress because—as long as my priorities have already been established—choosing the next step seems really natural to me because the important things have already been decided.
List-making scares some people for that very reason. I know…there are worse things out there, but it is the very idea of creating a set of “non-negotiables” for life seems a bit daunting for some people. I guess they haven’t thought about the fact that by choosing not to make a stand on important issues, they’ve already chosen their main non-negotiable. (grin)
Once we knew for sure that we were moving, it became obvious that we couldn’t stay where we were. (You may be laughing at that, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t realize that and react accordingly!) You know the old adage about “Failing to plan means planning to fail!” and all that is actually true (there’s a reason those quotes stick around). This move means we have a whole host of changes coming and while we can’t control all of them, it is a pretty good idea to decide to take control of what you can…or be prepared to live with the decisions made by those who won’t have to live with them. In short, you need to make your own choices in life. (and that little nugget is all yours for free.)
Moving means that we will need a new place to live, a new church family, a new community, a new favorite place to eat/shop/share with guests, etc. These aren’t things you just leave to chance, in my opinion, and the first thing you need to do is…you guessed it…make a list.
Our list included things we wanted to consider: kinds of housing available, location/proximity to work/shopping, drive-time, long-term goals (yes, that lifetime of list making keeps those things close) and short-term goals. We made a list of things we wanted in our next home based on the idea that this is the area of country where we hope to stay for a very long time. That means our new home will have to accommodate where we are now, those who will visit (we tend to get a lot of visitors), those we love who are aging (all of us!) and any possible mobility issues for the future…not to mention our needs for security and privacy, a place to store our stuff and create new things, convenient drive-times and general aesthetics. We were blessed to be familiar with the area since we’d previously lived nearby. That told us a lot because we knew where we’d been and what we didn’t want, as well. Armed with this list of must-haves—and must-not-haves!–we set off to hunt down a new house…and…didn’t find it…and didn’t find it…and didn’t find it.
Were we so weird? What was up with all these people who lived in these places that didn’t meet our criteria?! How could they possibly manage to live normal, healthy, productive lives?! (grin) I mean, I had in my head a picture of what our new place would look like…and I just couldn’t find it. Finally, after another day of desperate searching, I told my husband that we would have to make some serious adjustments to our budget, our locations or our willingness to compromise on issues of privacy.
After some thought, budget and privacy won out and we decided to expand our search into areas we had already decided we didn’t really want to live. Nice areas, but we’d already been there/done that/long drive time, etc. In case you’re wondering, compromise doesn’t always taste good…at least at the beginning.
Armed with an adjusted list and a somewhat pitiful-me attitude, I set off the next day to look at another list of houses. I was mentally resigned that my house wasn’t out there and I was just marking time until spring when the people who were holding on to my private and perfectly located house would find out they were moving and put it on the market right in the middle of my price range and I’d be the only one who saw the listing. Yes, I know. I think big. (laughter!) Seriously, God’s word says that He can do more than we can ever ask or think, so I like to prove that by thinking big at the start of things.
My realtor chose the starting place and we set off. I was amused to find we were heading into very familiar territory…I’d shopped there before, worked there, I knew who lived there, had eaten there…gone to church there…and then we turned into the driveway. As odd as it sounds, I felt like I was coming home and I’d never even seen that house before. We got out and went inside…and I wanted to sit on the couch and just cry with relief because it felt even more like I was coming home. This was my house…way out here…in this place I didn’t really want to live…further from work and shopping and…it was still my house. Crazy. This wasn’t on the list…and yet it was almost everything on the list that we’d originally made and prayed over before we started this process.
God is funny that way. He likes to expand our comfort zones and challenge our expectations. He likes to do things that only He can do so we know, for sure, that He’s the One who is doing it. He likes to throw stuff in just because He can and He loves to bless us…even when we’re sure we know better at the start. That doesn’t mean that His gifts don’t come with additional challenges. In fact, God’s best for us will often include things that force us outside of what we would ordinarily choose. It means that He really does know what we need more than we do…those things that will make us more like His Son and help us to put what pleases Him…at the top of our list.
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (ESV)
“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (HCSB)