Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Life: The House Metaphor

I own a large house built in 1980.  I have lived there since 1993. My husband at the time and I bought it when our son was a year old. It now includes a remodeled addition, a guest house, and a separate garage. My husband was the caretaker of the house and so I have had a major adjustment to becoming sole owner of this house. Being a home owner is somewhat of a burden. Not only does the house itself need attention, but now living alone with three cats (by default, btw; it seems they stay with the house) includes some emotional feelings associated with the house. I have felt its emptiness, vastness, and loneliness. I have shed plenty of tears in my lonely despair.

There are a number of repairs needed in this house, not to mention the maintenance required. A fresh coat of paint and some updating are long overdue; the kitchen hasn't been redone since it was built. The carpets and tile should be replaced.  The yard screams for attention.  I'm learning to allow time for basic upkeep like watering plants, tending to the pool, handling garbage collection –the basic adult responsibilities that I've managed to avoid while married. I've considered selling the house. After all, what do I need with this big house along with all this work?  This seems like a lot for me to do. Selling is an option; one I have considered with much thought and that has a lot of appeal. But I have felt that this house is mine for a reason. This house is mine for a purpose, and that I can actually come to thrive and enjoy this house. I actually like this house and it is home.

The metaphor of this house representing my life is a beautiful one. I am faced with taking care of my life in ways I haven’t been in the past. It has been and still is in need of repair.  The body most definitely needs some repair, as does much of my thinking. The emotional healing has been given a lot of attention and it continues to require a set of skilled laborers to assist in its repair. My way of relating to the house is so indicative of how I relate to myself – I feel burdened and empty; I see the years of neglect. My husband wasn't just a caretaker of the house, he was a caretaker of me. Just like I dreamed of a new house, I fantasize of a new me. And not in a healthy dreamy kind of way, but in a discard-this-one-since-it-is-broken-and-too-much-work-to-make-it-livable kind of thinking.  

Then, she appears: Healthy Sara. The one who has been discovering her worth,who is accepting of her imperfectly perfect self. The one who has been courageous and dares greatly, and despite all the work knows that there is no trading in this model for a newer one. In fact, this model is just fine. This life of mine is the one I've been given.  I am both resident and landlord. Each life is given its share of burdens, but what about the blessings? Yes, what about them?! 

My house is a blessing and it has been from the beginning. The needs and wants of the family were greatly considered when shopping for a new home. I knew from the first that that this house was to be my new home.  My son grew up in this house and there are many good memories within its walls. This house has afforded me the privilege of holding many fun events, including two weddings (soon to be a third) as well as numerous parties.  Its location is ideal and I have scenic views of mountains and nearly an acre of land to enjoy both spacious living and luscious landscape.  My house is also built of strong materials --  both brick and 2 x 6 construction. The original owner applied his Midwestern ideals to house building and made sure it was well-constructed. At its core, my house is solid, as well as welcoming and comfortable.

The blessings of my life are just as many. I, too, am ideally situated for this time and place to allow for healing and repair. I have a purpose. The emptiness is being replaced with fullness of joy and love, slowly but surely. The One Who Loves Me reminds me of my worth and value (He still thinks I’m lovable, beautiful and a catch) which builds love for myself followed by love for others. The repairs continue, as will the maintenance. It is amazing what a new coat of paint will do.  I was hauling the garbage containers down to the street last night and as I shifted my thinking about that being a chore to something I willingly and honestly wanted to do, I felt the same shift within my thinking about myself. It isn't the burdens but the blessings that really matter. It isn't that I have to haul out the garbage, it is that I get to care for myself.

It’s nice to be in charge of my own house and even better to be in charge of my own life.

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