The House Next Door

This is the house next door. I know, it doesn’t look so special, does it? It’s a rental, and the landlord doesn’t seem too keen on making it look nice. We’ve started cleaning up the area here, with plans on planting trees, grass, etc. on our part of the property line. Maybe we’ll put up a section of fence, and I’ll put a little bench here and plant some attractive bushes, make it into a little refuge.

This is the rental I first lived in when I left my husband 20 years ago this month. I lived in the basement apartment and this is where I spent the most emotionally difficult year of my life. When I returned to this town this past April to look for a home to buy, and looked at the house we now live in, I realized the house next door was my previous “home”. 

I can identify every room in this apartment by looking at the windows: Left to right: bedroom, bathroom, and second bedroom. I always closed off the second bedroom because I had a grant for heating fuel, and I was trying to stretch it as far as possible. I could never get that basement warm enough, and I had a little space heater in the bathroom. I was always afraid someone would crawl through one of the windows at night and attack me. The windows now are new and secure. This was the place I would descend to each evening after work… unlock the back door, go down the steps, disappear into the dungeon. For someone who was depressed and lonely, this was not a good place to be.

Why am I living right next door to this place? I didn’t plan this. I didn’t look for a house for sale that was right next to this. How did this happen? Is God in charge? Is God all-knowing? Did God plan this? Do you think nothing happens without God knowing it was going to happen?  I thought, am I here so I can realize how far I’ve come, or, am I here so I can see how easy it would be to find myself in the same situation again? Frankly, I think it’s too much of a “co-incidence”, and I can’t figure out what the purpose is. Am I over-thinking this? We know God has a plan for our lives… is this part of His plan to keep me humble? To remind me of where I once was and to be sensitive to what others may be going through? 

A few weeks after my husband and I moved into our house, a deputy was attempting to serve papers to a young woman who lived in the alley house behind the rental house. It was like deja-vu… I remember the shock of having a sheriff hand deliver divorce papers to me. It’s like, welcome to your new reality… life as you knew it will never be the same!

I don’t understand why I am back here, back to looking at those windows–this time from the outside looking in. Maybe that’s it?  Perhaps it’s God’s way of showing me He is faithful and true to his word… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

When sad, sorry, lost and unsaved Joy lived in that apartment, I couldn’t even imagine a future, and I certainly had no hope. “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes…”  (Jer. 29, 12-14).

Years later, I did call upon the Lord, and I did pray to Him, and He did listen to me… and yes, he did restore my “fortune”. 

This life road is a long one, God takes our entire length of life to work part of His plan. We might not see the purpose of things that happen until the end of our life. Still, I look at the windows next door, and I wonder.



19 thoughts on “The House Next Door

  1. And you look at the windows next door and you give thanks for all He has done in your life since those days.
    Every time I ‘run into’ something from my past, my heart overflows with praise for all He has done, and my heart goes out to those who are still living without Him.

    We serve an amazing God!

    • Yes, it is a good reminder to thank God for our changed lives and think about where we might be if we had continued down the wrong road and never accepted Him as Savior. I also think how I might have never come to know Christ if I had not gone through these difficult circumstances. I had to be humbled to recognize my sinfulness.

  2. Odd isn’t it how things of our youth can either make or break us. Some pretty frightening things happened to me in my teenage years, but I scarcely ever remember them now. Things that could cause years of hurt and fear were left behind by the time I was 18 and without Christ I’m sure I could still be nursing hurt and pain decades later.

  3. Our steps are ordered by the Lord, Joy. Just praise the Lord that He knows about every situation in our lives and is able to work them all out for our good as stated in Rom 8:28. A touching story indeed.!!

  4. I think you’re on track here. This is a God-incidence as a deacon friend of mine would say. She was the first I heard use that phrase, not the only one, and she’s one of the ones who were in the Bible study during our kids’ nursery school that led me to God. He does have a plan, for whoever lives in that apartment now as much as for you. You’re a brave and solid Christian with a husband who loves and supports you, sharing your beliefs. Prayer together and following your hearts will surely lead to following His.

  5. Sometimes God brings you back to a place or event to bring you healing…maybe there is yet something from those long ago days God’s healing touch and light needs to heal. Our life is like an onion….when we seek God and ask Him to heal our lives He does so by peeling back one layer at a time….sometimes we want Him to hurry up but He knows us and loves us so He takes each layer off when the timing is right. I would pray and ask Him….what is it You want to show me? I am. here and willing God, help me to know the reason I am back here. We serve a very faithful God and He will show you and tell you…..He loves you very much:) Healing old memories and hurts is good stuff….it can be hard at times but it will set you free:) I will be a praying for you:)

  6. Hey Joy, it’s me again.
    What comes to mind while reading your post is the scripture where David, in talking to the Lord, says how He will fetch him even from the very gates of Sheol. Not quite sure where the scripture is or even if I’ve quoted it correctly, but He sure did rescue you from the pit, didn’t he?
    Maybe you should go next door and take a gift with you, like a freshly baked loaf of bread, and tell them about your stay in that same basement. You have memories worth telling and a progression from where you were in those days to where you are now.
    Bless you my fine feathered American Friend, Geoff.

  7. Wow, wow, wow–God never ceases to amaze me Joy and I’m thankful for that. Thank you for sharing how our God IS alive and He does have personal relationships–I collect all of my God moments that I am aware of, and treasure and ponder them in my heart. I have treasured this one of yours in my heart since you posted this. God is so kind to put you in a place that always reminds you how faithful He is, even when we are not. This reminder of like a limp someone has after being saved in an accident…they were saved but the limp is still there reminding them of God’s saving grace. Yes this is humbling but that is great because God gives even MORE grace to the humble…praising God with you!

    • I’m glad I wrote about this, the comments I am recieving are making things more clear to me. The House Next Door is a reminder of God’s love, grace, provision, care, leading, and faithfulness to me for nearly 20 years. I have a reminder right before my eyes, and believe me, I see this house every day, many times a day!

  8. p.s.

    In regards to what you wrote:

    “A few weeks after my husband and I moved into our house, a deputy was attempting to serve papers to a young woman who lived in the alley house behind the rental house. It was like deja-vu… I remember the shock of having a sheriff hand deliver divorce papers to me. It’s like, welcome to your new reality… life as you knew it will never be the same!”

    The verse that came to mind immediately was:
    2 Corinthians 1:3-5
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

  9. How beautiful that God not only has a plan for your life but that He is enabling you to share your tears and joys along with the wisdom you have gained. Waiting to hear how this “house next door” will become a blessing to you and others through you.

  10. As someone already posted, your testimony can bring hope to some troubled soul who is in the same place (emotionally, not physically) that you were in 20 years ago when you had little hope and even less peace. I am sending this post to my sister as I think it will be an encouragement to her to read a testimony where God made something beautiful out of your life. And He can do the same for her.

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