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.