By Cindy Koch –
We walked into a nicely kept 1960’s home about 4 years ago. The original crisscross glass front door welcomed us into the dimly lit front hallway. Directly under our feet was yellowed linoleum which blended clumsily into a plush baby blue carpet. As I turned to the right, I was met face to face with two freestanding closets in the already crowded entry way. I felt like I was in a coffin. Around the corner was the glorious kitchen, faux brick backsplash framed the mid-century not-modern wall oven. And yes, the original (again) wooden cabinets.
The realtor showed us room after outdated room in this best choice of a house that we had seen for two weeks. It really was a gem after the distressed properties we had seen in our price range. It was not my dream home. In fact, it became my unfortunate whipping boy as the emotional stress pressed on my family when we relocated back to Southern California. If you have ever tried to buy a home out here – you know what I mean.
So, I cried a lot. Yes, I know women do that. And I did. A lot. It was the house; so old, so ugly, so many things to fix before we could even move in. But it was also the moving. I left very good friends behind. I left a community that I knew. I shopped at Publix and had the coupon system down! I had a group of gals that was never short on wine or conversation. I wanted to watch my babies grow up with the little ones we left behind. But now we were here, in a strange new place, and my kitchen had no dishwasher.
But when we first entered our house, I turned to my husband and said, “If we buy this one, these closets have to go.” I was struggling to understand that this place, as unappealing as it appeared, was a home. It had the things we needed as a family. There was a roof to keep us dry (not like it ever rains here), a front door for security, a place to prepare food for nourishment, and space for all 5 kids to sleep. My husband lovingly reminded me that we could make changes, and it would become our own.
Sure enough, we began the changes. We tore down those confining closets. Then we just raised the ceiling in that entry way. But by that time we had to tear up half of the floor, so we tore up the rest: linoleum and baby blue carpet and every piece of floor in every bedroom. One thing led to another, we decided to add a dishwasher and stripped the existing kitchen down to bare walls. Oops. We gutted the whole house. But in the process of destruction, we made serious decisions about the future of our home. Every cabinet we installed was put there for a reason. The floor we installed was carefully chosen for the benefit of our family. The remodeling of our home was an emotional and literal disaster that was resolved in a beautiful expression of our new life here.
I love our home. It still has all the things we needed as a family. There is a roof to keep us dry, a front door for security (still the original!), a place to prepare food for nourishment (including a dishwasher), and space for all 5 kids to sleep. And now it has our caring hands and joyful laughter as a part of its history. I have also found a place here in this community. Friends to depend on, grocery stores to shop in, even a little coffee shop that I don’t know how I lived without.
And I wonder… how it is that you move into this church? This is the place where we find a Creator who watches over us, a Redeemer that keeps us safe from death, a Spirit who constantly feeds us strength and endurance; it is a place where we can find rest. But when you enter those big scary doors, do you leave crying? Is it too much, or too different? Too outdated, or too ugly?
You will make changes and it will become you own.
This house of faith is alive and breathing. The church is not a stale and unchangeable structure. There is a family here who love you so much, that they will help swing the sledgehammer so that you are a part of this home, too.