Last week, I stopped being mad at God. You see, a year ago my husband and I were looking to buy a house. I prayed and prayed that God would lead us to the right house, the one he wanted us to have. When we found our house, I knew in an instant that this one was “it.” Sure, it was a 20-year-old ranch style instead of the new construction we thought we wanted and it needed some updates. We wondered if the previous owners were colorblind, because the paint colors in every room were atrocious. But the neighborhood was perfect and we loved the open layout. Thinking we were just signing on for a few cosmetic changes, we bought the house.
A month to the day after we closed and moved in, our basement flooded for the first time. And it has continued to flood, again and again. To date, we’ve spent thousands of dollars and more hours than I can count trying to keep the water out and repair the damage it has done. My husband and I have argued over how to fix it and learned to dread the sight of rain clouds. And for a long time, I’ve been mad at God. I was angry that I had prayed so diligently to be given the right house, only to end up with this hellhole instead. I wondered if God was even more sarcastic than I am. Honestly, there were times when I wondered if He was there at all – because to me, if He was really there and really listening, there was no way He would have given us this house. I stopped praying for things, because I no longer trusted Him.
But through our arguments, my husband and I learned how to compromise and communicate better. We’re much closer and stronger now than we were a year ago. We’ve learned how to face adversity as a team instead of individually – which is not nearly as easy as it seems. Over the past year, we’ve developed skills that will see us through a lifetime of challenges. Slowly, I began accepting that perhaps this really WAS the house God wanted us to have, so that we could learn the lessons we needed to in life. I was able to let go of some of my anger, but I still didn’t trust God. I still didn’t pray for things, because I’d had enough “lessons” for now, thank you.
And then it started raining on May 1, 2010. It did not stop for two days and 17 inches. With a basement that floods after a mere inch or two of heavy rain, this should have been its death knell. But the French drain in the backyard directed the water around our house. And the sump pump in our crawl space kept pace with the rain. The 4,000 lbs worth of sandbags lined our back wall. Because it had happened before, we were vigilant and stayed in our basement throughout the storm. We used our 12 gallon shop vac to quickly vacuum up any water that permeated the perimeter. We ran the clothes dryer all night and day, drying out the towels pressed against our back wall and rotating them continuously. When the rain stopped Sunday night, we were exhausted … but our house was dry.
After seeing – first on TV and then in person – all of the devastation around us, I no longer think God gave us this house merely to teach us a few painful lessons. He answered my prayer that He would lead us to “the house we were supposed to have” by giving us this house to keep us safe. Had we bought any other house, we might not have had the tools we needed to stop the water. Had we bought any other house, we might not have been able to offer family a place to stay when their house flooded. Had we bought any other house, we might have needed the help of others last week, instead of being able to go out and help our friends and family.
This morning on my way to work, I started praying again – really praying. Because now that I understand why God answers prayers the way He does, I want to be talking to Him about everything. I thanked Him for my friends and my family and for keeping everyone safe. I thanked Him for my city, which has me bursting at the seams with pride at its love and generosity for its citizens. I asked Him to be with those who had lost so much, to wrap them in His comfort and His peace.
But I started with thanking Him for my house.