We moved back from Florida last October. It wasn’t the easiest transition – most aren’t for me if I’m honest. At the time I was almost 8 months pregnant with Caden. I was excited for what our move back to Atlanta meant for our family, but also sad to say goodbye to an amazing community in Florida.
Questions swirled in my head between our decision to move and it actually taking place. Were we missing it, I wondered. Was this total madness doing all this transition at the same time, I thought. (Yes, yes it was.)
But those lingering questions were silenced by an outright flood of God’s kindness, all by way of the house we rented. Because this isn’t just any house. It is a tangible reminder in our massive whirl of transition, and many moments since, that God is so kind to his people, to my family, to me.
It was three years ago when I first walked into our Atlanta bungalow. At the time I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, Eloise, and so hopeful that this was the house we would rent. I found it minutes after its posting on Zillow, a sure sign it was meant to be ours. An open house was scheduled for a week later, but I immediately emailed the agent asking if we could get in early to see it.
I loved it. My pregnancy hormones were high and I was certain this little house was the perfect place to nest our growing family.
I quickly received a reply back to my request telling me I’d have to wait until the open house, at which point they would review all applications and make a decision.
The day of the open house came and I went to check it out with my friend, Cindy. Walking through its doors only confirmed how much I wanted to rent it. Mark and I were living cozy in a two-bedroom condo and the idea of space, a backyard, and even a designated nursery sounded amazing.
I submitted my application, prayed like a wild woman, called up my favorite prayer warriors to join me, and waited.
A few days later I was in Ohio for a friend’s wedding when I got the call. There were too many applicants, the agent said, so they chose the couple with the highest gross income.
It wasn’t us.
In the grand scheme of life, problems, and letdowns, this isn’t huge. This is a house that we wanted to rent and we didn’t get. I totally get that.
My disappointment was real. I felt crushed by the news. This house made sense, I reasoned with God. It ticked all the boxes of what would bring ease and comfort, so I reminded him. Plus I just felt it – deep in my gut – that we could make it our home.
But even with my heartfelt petitions, which there were many, it was a bold no.
I knew with a baby coming soon that I needed to move myself out of that disappointed space, and fast. Disappointment is natural and meant to be felt, but it’s never a destination. It’s an honest and raw stop along the journey, and a place where most of us find ourselves more times than we’d ever prefer. But we’re not meant to build a foundation or start making home there.
So I did the only thing I know really works when I feel most disappointed. I drove back to the house, (creepily?) parked my car in front of it, and prayed over the family who would move in there. I could still visualize our family in that house, but I had to come to grips that this wasn’t our gift. I determined the best way to redirect my attention and energy towards what was ours in that season was to thank God for the family who would make it their home.
Because channeling prayers and words of blessing into what God is doing – even and especially when it is not the outcome we envision – is a powerful way to steward disappointment.
Words of thanks and honor are some of the best tools when we find ourselves most disappointed. They propel us out of where we are. They ensure we don’t camp too long on the ground of what isn’t, but instead keep moving ourselves ahead by celebrating what actually is.
So with some tears streaming, I thanked God for the family who would call that place home – and for all those families who would come after them too.
Amen, let it be.
Fast forward two years to last August when we knew we were moving back to Atlanta. Anyone who lives here knows how difficult it is to find a rental property when you live in this city, let alone when you’re doing all the work from another location. Mark was prepping me that our best option was likely for us to move into an apartment complex until we got our feet on the ground.
I cried. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I also knew I’d get over it and we’d make the best of it.
The next day I did a quick search, something I hadn’t done in a while, to see what rental properties were listed. There, posted an hour earlier, was the exact house I had desperately hoped to rent two years prior – back on the market, available right when we needed, and priced at exactly what we agreed we wouldn’t go over.
Mark called the company to see what the chances were we could rent it and found out two things. One, they were having a hard time scheduling an open house with the current family. Nothing had been set yet even though they were ready to get it rented. And two, they were only willing to rent to people who had seen the property in person.
So because we had seen it and wanted to rent it, they let us put our application through before showing the house to anyone else.
And that house is now our home.
I often catch myself smiling when I walk through its green door, and not a week goes by that I don’t pull into the driveway and say “thank you” one more time for it. It’s a quirky little place that’s been wonderfully gifted to our family. So I never want to forget what God has done for us. How kind he was in a season of transition. How perfectly he planned things beyond our vision. How he taught me about blessing others in the midst of my disappointment.
Because, totally unbeknownst to me, I prayed for our family who would call this place home exactly two years later.
Obviously the timing wasn’t what I wanted. But because it wasn’t, and because there was waiting, wondering, and disappointment along the journey, it means so much more to me today.
The story changed and so did its meaning.
It’s not just a place I was hoping to nest my family when we first became a family of three. It’s where we sowed prayer and blessing even when we didn’t think we’d ever step foot through its door again, and yet God did what we couldn’t imagine.
He gifted back to us something we thought was gone, done, and over. Still he heard. Still he moved. Still he gave.
This home is a constant reminder to me. I walk through its door and remember again how much it matters what we do and how we respond in those in-between and not-yet moments of life. Because they determine what comes next, days, weeks, and seasons ahead.
What we sow today, we will harvest. Not a single prayer, word, or tear of honesty, hope, or courage is ever lost.
I wrote to a friend of mine last week and processed through some of my reflections on my current life. I tucked these words into it that I am convinced of today:
“The fact that it hasn’t always been this way makes me so grateful for what is in this season. The absence in seasons past paved the way for deeper thankfulness and awareness in our present.”
May you and I keep challenging ourselves to carry a vision beyond all that it is or isn’t today. Because how we choose to respond and what we choose to speak, no matter what does or doesn’t happen, makes all the difference.