Recently we have been decorating. We moved to our home nearly 5 years ago and this is the last major decorating we need to do. When we brought the house it was in a state of much needed modernisation and some tender loving care after some years of the owners struggling with the upkeep. It has taken us quite a journey to get it to the state it is now. As we painted walls yesterday I reflected on the journey that brought us to this house and how God knew it all. The testimony of our move is one that I felt I should blog - it may be an encouragement to others who are in similar situations where they can't see the end or what God is doing......
Early 2011 and our lives had just been hit by an event that rocked us to our core. Although there was an element of physical trauma what we didn't realise at the time was the emotional and mental trauma we were going through. Suddenly from being a relatively confident person I became insular, not everyone saw the change in me but Malcolm did .......... I could not walk around a supermarket if there were lots of people, crowds became a problem with regular panic attacks, some mornings I would wake up and not be able to decide anything - there were countless days where Malcolm would choose every item I would wear that day. Most weekends we would head out of London to see the countryside - walk in open fields, breath and walk alongside the sea. If we were out I needed to be able to see Malcolm or know where he was - my confidence was zero! Evenings would see us return from work and an immediate change into pj's! We had a builder friend come and put extra bolts on our front door as I found myself scared in my own home - the area we lived in was rough - I witnessed a youth stabbed, our car was stolen from our street, our neighbour was broken into and stabbed in his own home, there were frequent fights and frequent calls to the police. I felt trapped. It wasn't long before we realised we needed to move and so our house went on the market.
10 months later we still hadn't sold our house. My symptoms of not coping were not really easing and Malcolm was literally holding me together. Work was my saving grace - the one place where my confidence was ok; I knew what I was doing and knew the people around me! At the time if you had asked me I would have told you I was doing fine; almost not realising how bad things were apart from the fact that with some advice I was now seeing a counsellor who was helping me to manage some of my symptoms from the trauma earlier that year. It was at this 10 month mark that Malcolm said that he thought we should start thinking that not only should we change our home but we should change the area in which we lived - moving out of London; he was also starting to think that if we didn't sell then we should look at alternatives to just move from our house as soon as possible even if we still owned it. A few weeks later we looked at 6 houses one weekend that were outside of London. That weekend we received three offers on our home in London. It seemed that Malcolm's idea to move out could be the right one! One of the houses we saw that weekend stood out from the rest and so we put an offer in after negotiating on the price the offer was accepted.
A few months later and we were ready to move but then came the news that the people we were buying from had issues further up the chain and were now not ready to move out. We were told there would be a few weeks delay. Our buyer then announced that if we did not sell to her at that time that she would pull out - she was ready to move in! We then made a decision to sell, so we put all our stuff in storage and packed enough for 2 weeks. Our employer had agreed to give us a room at work for two weeks in which we could live. The two weeks became three months - I cannot describe to you the questions we had in those months - had we got it wrong? Had we made the wrong decisions? The feelings of being homeless and concerns how it would all work out were very unnerving. It was just about to hit the point that we would have to take a massive financial hit in respect of our mortgage when it was all resolved and we could move. The day we got the keys my sister came with me to pick them up and walk through the front door. Malcolm was busy at work preparing for a wedding reception the next day. Even having the keys felt odd as we couldn't move in with work commitments and working out the practicalities of moving stuff from a storage unit to the house were quite baffling!
At the time of preparing to move we were given two words about our new home - one was that it would be a place of healing and the other that the Lord would lead us out to a spacious place [we were given that when the folks didn't know anything about the home we had brought].
Once we got into our new home we started to reflect on those three months of being homeless where we had asked so many questions about what we were doing. If we had heard right? If we had made right decisions. It was only looking back that we realised that those three months God did some powerful things in us in closing doors, in starting some work in us that meant that when we eventually moved that it really was a fresh start with lots of things dealt with rather than bringing them with us to this new home. God knew what we needed and orchestrated it so that despite us not realising that we had time and space to shut some doors ready for the new day in our lives.
In my old home to see the sky you needed to walk outside and look straight up - you could not see the sky from inside with the way that the house was positioned in respect of other houses. In our new home I am often caught looking out from the back windows across the garden to the trees in the distance - God really brought us to a spacious place / spacious view! We saw a change in me - confidence started to return, I began to feel more positive about life and I went from merely surviving to thriving.
5 years on and we are so grateful that God led us to this home to be a place of healing for us and hopefully for others. Time and time again we have seen God use our home to help others or bless them. It is His home - it belongs to Him and we pray that He will use our home for His glory. BUT at the same time we hold it lightly - if God tells us that He wants us somewhere else then we would happily move - we know that this season in this house as been one where He has used this home to rebuild us as a couple, as individuals, where the beauty of creation has ministered life into weary broken lives, where sunsets, rainbows and storms have oozed with His faithfulness and care. I praise God for our home. It has literally been a God-send, a lifeline to both of us!