The house that I nicknamed the W house — which we in my household had set our hearts on buying, moving into, and establishing our family long-term in — has sold. And not to us. Although we had a contingent offer for the house submitted and accepted, someone else came along who could buy the house right then and there. So they did.
It’s hard to express the depth of disappointment that we are going through as a result. You could almost call it heartbreak. This was more than just a cool house to us. To us, it was the place that we were going to stay and let time unfold for the next 20 or 30 years. My home office in the front — Daddy’s room, not to be invaded by kids or noise; the great kitchen that would have launched a thousand dinners cooked with the kids; the great backyard. When we stepped into the house, each time we felt like it was OUR house — our home. But that’s not how it was meant to be.
It was the place that we were sure God wanted us to move to — all the “feelings” and “leadings” and everything else said, sell your house and buy THIS ONE. We prayed a lot, and asked others to pray for us, about whether this was the right call, and every indication said YES. And we were wrong. So it’s not only disappointment but confusion — the sort of confusion people of faith face when they encounter the disconnect between the will of the God they believe in, and the inherently flawed means we have to use to discern it. We try our best and attain what we think is certain knowledge of His will in our present lives, and find out that we were wrong.
Maybe this is too heavy-handed. It’s just a house after all. But losing this house is maybe the first encounter we’ve had in which we, as a whole family, have really desired something and invested ourselves in it, only to have it slip away from us and be forced to deal, as a family, with the disappointment of the loss.
I’ve learned a few lessons so far from this experience.
I have the power, as the husband and dad, to set the tone for how we deal with this. I see clearly that when I choose to deal with it by becoming sullen and inwardly-turned, my wife and even our 2-year old will act the same way. When I choose to deal with it by putting on a fake smiley face, everyone else does the same. When I choose to feel honestly the disappointment but try hard to move on, the same thing happens. Whether they or I like it or not, or would choose to or not if I could, I am setting the parameters for how we as a family will deal with this.
Having to face disappointment and loss corporately as a family — where each family member is taking a direct hit — is a powerful and constructive thing. Moreso than when one family member faces it and the others come around him and sympathize. It’s in situations like this that familiy members learn things from other family members, and in which a point of family culture is developed and tried by fire.
The call for me as the husband and dad here is to somehow be virtuous. But I’m reminded of something C. S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, namely that of all the virtues, courage is the most important because courage is the form all virtues take at the point of testing. I am especially reminded that I am teaching Doodles lots of things by my actions — courage being probably one of the most important. How will she become a courageous woman? By watching Mama and Daddy show courage when depression would be easier.
So we move on; we have some leads on a few other homes, one of which actually has a nicer backyard than the W house. We are more cautious with our offers, and probably we will not do anything until our place actually sells. But the moving on part is the most important thing, moving on to better things.