After we worked our fingers to the bones and our bodies into a state of utter fatigue, we finally had the house ready to be scrutinized by all those strangers who’d eagerly set up appointments to see it. We had four showings, to be exact, and we weren’t allowed to be here for them. Thank heavens, I say. The last thing I wanted was to see the faces of those whose sole purpose for being here was to judge the house and everything in it.
Have you ever watched those house-hunting shows on TV? More often than not, the couple seeking a new home has high hopes and limited funds. They want new or updated houses that match their tastes exactly and criticize everything from the carpet on the floors to the choice of color on the walls.
But not just that. When strangers come into your house, they’re seeing everything that makes it a home to you. The kinds of things you collect. The pictures of your family. Your taste in furniture and decor. Everything. And they judge it, even though it doesn’t come with the house. They see the things you’ve put up with all these years, and they wonder why you haven’t fixed it. The crack in the floor tile, the crack in the wall, the buckling carpet. They wonder why you’ve never repaired the _____ (fill in the blank). Some of the stuff is cosmetic; some create valid concerns, but we’ve dealt with them.
Our house has two strikes against it: It’s old and we’re the owners. It was built in the ’70s and looks it. I stink as an interior decorator. To me, it’s our home and it looks fine. To others, it’s supposed to be a showplace and it’s severely lacking. And it doesn’t help that all of our home improvement budget went to doctors and hospitals instead.
And, when we got to hear the opinions of those who came out, that’s what we heard: the house is dated. It would take too much to bring it up to “my standards.” “Goodness! Are they the original owners?” Which, of course, points to the fact that anyone else would’ve updated it.
I’m well aware of all the problems in this house, and being outdated is only part of it. I’ve been known to get splinters from the cabinets. The dark paneling shows dust something awful. The popcorn from the ceiling brushes off when I clean around the vents. The carpet in the bedrooms has been here since we moved in, and the only reason the carpet in the living and dining rooms is newer is because we had a little fire that burned holes in the old one. The windows aren’t sealed well enough, so there’s a bit of a draft. The drapes don’t close right. The tub has a stain that was here when we moved in, and I have yet to figure out how to get it out.
So, believe me, whatever words of criticism house-hunters express, I agree. But here’s the thing: it’s still our home and it hurts to hear the indictment against it. We’ve been here, broke but happy, for over twenty years. Things would’ve been different had I never gotten sick, but things are what they are. And if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t move away from the view outside my window—the trees, all the birds and squirrels, the turtles sunning on the pond bank, the fading of the cypress trees in the fall from green to gold to rust. Our new house is in town, in a typical neighborhood, and that’s what we’ll see when we look out the windows there. Neighbors.
I think I’m still tired from all the work we’ve been doing the past several days. Ordinarily, I’m not so morose. We have a lot to be thankful for, so I really shouldn’t complain about anything. I’m certain God has softened the heart of whomever He has chosen to move into this beautiful place. And it is beautiful. Despite all the problems, it has great “bones,” as they call it in the business, and it’s surrounded by lovely woods and the peaceful pond. God knows who will love it as much as we do and will bring them here in time.
Meanwhile, I’ll pick out splinters and watch the fish play in the pond.