A New Home for Christmas
Many of us have been there. Finding an apartment, signing a lease, packing boxes, renting a U-Haul, moving furniture, and unpacking the same boxes in a new place. Then, 11 months later we get ready to do it all over again!
In the five years leading up to our marriage, my husband and I moved a combined total of nine times between the two of us. When we finally settled into our first apartment as newlyweds, I prayed that this lease would be our last.
With a high-priced housing market and low inventory, we could only dream of buying a house our first year of marriage. We watched so much HGTV—House Hunters, Love It or List It, Celebrity IOU—that a Wishlist began to form for our future home in Northern Virginia.
Ten and a half months into our 12-month lease, our landlord visited to assess a damaged curtain rod. He surprised us with a folder of rental listings and news that we couldn’t renew the lease that was up at the end of November!
After the initial shock, we felt the peace of the Holy Spirit in our prayer urging us to look for a house to buy. Providentially, our landlord was a full-time realtor in Northern Virginia, and our hours of watching HGTV actually paid off as we articulated exactly what we were looking for in our first house.
Less than ten days and 20 house tours later, we walked into a three-level townhome with terracotta-colored floors and a gas fireplace with a beautiful mantle, and immediately we knew we had found “the one.” We made an offer on the house that day and, after some negotiation, agreed upon a number just below the listing price.
On November 19 we closed on our first home and moved in the very next day. We ordered furniture on Black Friday, unpacked most of our boxes, and cooked our first few meals, in awe that the house was actually ours!
I share this story because it was God’s triumph at the end of our first year of marriage that was incredibly blessed but also incredibly challenging.
During an excursion on our honeymoon in Mexico I severely injured my back after falling off an ATV. Nine long months of physical recovery followed during which my husband lost his job. He then had surgery three days before his health insurance coverage expired, and at the same time, I was in the final stages of interviews for two new jobs and discerning what direction God wanted me to take my career.
What got us through our first year of marriage was our faith and the fruit of the Holy Spirit I’ve always found most lacking in my heart: patience.
Through the waiting for my back to heal, for a new job to come, for Michael to heal from his surgery, and to find a new job too, I grew in patience in the past year than ever before. In the waiting I discovered a deeper need for my own emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing. I sought help from a licensed therapist and Spiritual Director. Instead of getting caught up in all the negative aspects of the waiting I faced, I learned how to reframe the long waits as opportunities to grow in faith.
Christ’s coming into the world as a humble child born of the Virgin Mary was not what the Jewish people expected of their Messiah. To be honest, Christ didn’t enter into my first year of marriage in ways I expected either, but just as he surprised the world two thousand years ago, he surprised me and my husband with a new home for Christmas.
Through this experience, I learned that Jesus’ answers to my prayers are worth the wait. Many times His answers surprised me, especially in the midst of suffering I had never asked for. I experienced hopelessness I’d never felt before, but it was there, in the darkest places of my heart, where Christ’s light shined the brightest.
May your Christmas season be filled with joy and light too as you invite baby Jesus to illuminate the darkest places of your heart.
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Renee lives in Arlington, VA, and works for an international development firm in Washington, DC. She loves leading Walking With Purpose Bible studies at her parish and trying new cuisines from local restaurants. She has a Master’s in Latin American Studies from GWU and a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from the University of Miami.