Have you ever made a decision based on very little information that will surely affect the rest of your life—as well as the lives of everyone in your family—and which has no assurance of success? At the end of this past summer, my wife and I made a decision like that. We bought a house.
It felt like a crazy whirlwind. Over the span of a couple years, we had been visiting open houses. We had a pretty good sense of the neighborhood and the state of the housing market. We had run some honest numbers and knew our price range. So, in one sense, we were making sober and deliberate decisions in a calculated way.
Even so, the first step of buying a home felt insane. We attended an open house and spent about half an hour walking around the space. Based on that half hour, the next day we sat in our Realtor’s office and drew up papers to make an offer that involved not only more money than I had ever dealt with in my entire life, but more money than I could realistically imagine.
My wife and I were basing a significant portion of our future income for the next 30 years on the gut feelings we had from a couple dozen minutes of walking around in what, at the time, was someone else’s home.
A Familiar Feeling
Buying a house is a risk. It is a decision that affects every aspect of your life and your relationships. It fills you with excitement, and it wakes you up at night from the enormity of it all. It reminded me a lot of how I came to faith.
When you make a commitment to buy a home, all you have really seen is how the space has been lived in by somebody else. There is no way you can really know how it might feel to inhabit that space yourself. You can only imagine the possibilities.
More than this, to actually make the leap from imagining to buying, you have to become wildly optimistic. Your mind emphasizes all the beautiful things that will come from taking this huge next step.
But buying a home also puts you under intense scrutiny. For us, it meant that the bank looked at every aspect of our financial life. Our successes were offset by our mistakes. My wife and I had many honest conversations about what was realistic and possible based on our assets, savings, and likely earnings.
I recall that when I first became a follower of Christ, I subjected my past to a similar type of scrutiny. I came to terms with mistakes I had made in the past, and I figured out ways to move forward. As is the case with our family finances, being dishonest was not an option. If the dirt was there, it would be found out.
The key was to find a way to move forward in hope.
Embracing the Uncertainty
I was not raised in a Christian home. What I knew of faith came mostly from watching other people be faithful. It was like spending half hours here and there in other folks’ homes, imagining what it might be like to live there myself.
As we embark on this new adventure as first-time home buyers, we are imagining how we will feel 10, 20, and 30 years from now. I know that not all of it will be perfect.
Thirty years into my faith, I can be honest about the good and the bad. Sometimes the floors creak and the roof leaks. Things often need repair. We can never know. We can only imagine what will come—and live into what comes—as honestly as we can, with hope and love, together.