How To Weather Change & Make A House A Home
It seems like life is a constant state of change—doesn’t it? You get used to one stage of life and then it’s all of a sudden over. You invest in one place only to find out that your lease is up, or he gets a job across the country, or God starts whispering about the kiddos in Uganda.
The community I live in is notoriously transient. Working for a large missions organization means that at any given moment I have friends on 6 of the seven continents. We rarely say goodbye when one of us is traveling overseas. It’s become as normal as heading to the outlet mall in the next town over, or heading up to the mountains for a quick getaway (for those of us spoiled to grow up in Colorado.)
But the transient nature of our community often highlights the transient nature of life—the irritating tendency life has to sweep the rug out from under us just when we thought we were finally settled.
When I was little, my dad had a really old Volvo. I always thought it was purple, realizing now that it had more of a reddish tint than I gave it credit for.
It had soft seats and a distinct, comforting smell—and we’d drive it to school each morning—the car becoming as much of a part of my day as the sports talk radio that would hum soothingly in the background.
And when it came time for a new car, I was devastated.
I couldn’t get into the spirit of the sunroof or the new-car smell. I couldn’t enjoy wandering around the lot, dreaming about the next vehicle that would be an extension of our home. All I could think about was the old one, the comfortable one, the car that had my crayons still tucked in the back pocket and pennies stuck in the center console. I felt bad for the car, being kicked out of our family without warning, I wanted to save it—proving as faithful to it as it had been to me.
When we sold the Volvo and the man came to pick it up, my dad knelt down with a screwdriver to remove the plates. Wordlessly he pulled me into a side hug and handed the plates to me. The sentimental apple didn’t fall far from the tree with my dad, and he knew I’d want a memento from the car. He knew that to me, it was more than a mode of transportation—it was a piece of life as I had always known it.
I’ve become slightly less sentimental with age (an imperceptible difference), but I’m still not much better with change.
The past few months have foreshadowed transition—my old roommate making new plans, while my new roommates and I scoured the town for the perfect apartment.
We found one, and went into extreme nesting mode as we began dreaming of our new home and all the things that were going to happen within its walls.
But then as the time came to move, something shifted inside of me and I began to get nostalgic.
I looked around my old apartment and wished I could stay. I no longer smelled the dinginess of being on the first floor in the woods. I no longer cared about an increase in natural light. I no longer wanted a shiny, new apartment. I wanted to stay where it was comfortable—in the home that felt familiar.
When Carl left me in my new place the first night, I nearly begged him not to leave—feeling like I was being dropped off at school for the very first time.
And it’s because this place isn’t home yet.
And it’s because home takes time.
I have probably run about 100 errands in the last month—wanting to collect every perfect little item that’s going to transform my empty room into a sanctuary. I searched for three weeks for the perfect side tables, wanting a perfect place to keep my journal and a candle or two.
Carl and I spent some very sweaty days moving my mattress, box springs, bookshelf, desk, kitchen table, and a gigantic barn door we found at an antique market—taking load after load into the new house.
I went to work for a full week with paint on my arms and dirt under my fingernails—returning night after night to an apartment that was still filled with boxes.
And with one empty apartment, and another still far from being home, I realized that change is just hard.
Even when it’s good, it pushes us in a way that is uncomfortable and painful. It requires us to let go of something comfortable and familiar in favor of something new and unknown. And in the midst of that change it’s hard to see what we’re gaining—the leather seats and sunroof, or the big back yard and natural light—we’re so focused on the comfort and safety of what we’re leaving behind.
And the second thing I’m learning is that home is really important.
Life is big. It just is. It requires so much of us, asking us to step out and do things that are scary. Life pushes us past our limits and then asks us to keep going. There are days when you crawl home and want to curl up with a cozy blanket and a good book. There are days when you desperately need a cup of tea and a soft space to land.
And it’s really hard not having that.
But just like change, home takes time.
It takes paint and primer and lots of hours searching for just the right thing.
Homes aren’t found, they’re made. They’re made with every decision, every cozy blanket, and every memory you create inside of them.
And as you let go of one comfortable thing, you step into the discomfort of making something new, eventually getting to relax into something different, but better—something that with just a little bit of time, will end up being safe and familiar too.
How do you handle in-between seasons? What makes a house feel like home to you?
- I still have some work to do, but here are some photos of my new home -