A few years after we moved into our house, a lady stopped by when Chris was home alone. She introduced herself as part of the family that had lived here in the mid eighties and then handed over the original blueprints to the house that she had recently come across in an old desk. She felt it was important to bring them back to the house.
When I got home, Chris and I spent time studying the old and faded blueprints. Our house, a 1952 bungalow constructed in a city just southeast of downtown Indianapolis, was part of the housing boom after World War II. Our small city came into existence as a company town, a town built around a railroad repair facility, as a place for the workers and their families to live.
Looking at the blueprints, it was fun to see the original dream for our house and what they actually built. The plans had our main hallway in a different spot and a few walls in places we have doors. It was disappointing to see that I chose the wrong master bedroom closet as Chris’ is actually bigger. (Years later, he still will not trade me closets and I have yet to forgive this offense.)
Imagining who first built the house fifty five years before we moved in and all the people who lived in between was entertaining. It’s so strange to think this place that feels so comfortable and perfect for us was once someone else’s.
Seeing those blueprints and what could have been was interesting.
I often wonder what-could-have-been in so many areas of my life.
What would I be like if I hadn’t spent the last of my teen years and my early twenties in a unhealthy relationship with a boy who was completely wrong for me?
What would our marriage be like if I hadn’t walked out on that cabin porch in Nashville one summer day and saw Chris doing the unimaginable?
How would we look as a family of five if we hadn’t lost that baby a few years ago?
Who would I be if Chris and I had never gotten back together after we broke up that first summer? Where would I be and what would my life be like?
Where would I have ended up if I hadn’t changed my major freshman year from journalism to education?
Would my nose still be straight and bump-free if I had called in sick to basketball practice in 8th grade and not broken my nose?
Could I have ended up a super model if I hadn’t gotten that tramp stamp behind my parents’ back when I was seventeen?
These are the hard hitting questions that keep me up at night.
Okay, that’s not true. I sleep just fine, but sometimes I do wonder. It’s just crazy how one little decision can change so many afters. The older I get, the more I see how well things fit together and work for my good even when I was trying so hard to mess them up.
It’s the same way with my relationship with Jesus. One of my favorite readers (HELLO, MEL), was telling me how she and some of her friends read the read-your-Bible series from a few weeks ago and decided to not wait until their thirties to really dig in and find an authentic relationship with Christ. I told her that was pretty awesome and how I often wondered where I would be or what would be different in my life if I had started ten years ago as opposed to just a few.
One of the ministers at our church reminds us all the time that it’s our job as Christians to grow up in the faith, not just old in the faith.
I think about that challenge a lot.
I’m so glad even though I feel like I got a late start in the game, Jesus doesn’t see it that way. He started working in me the moment I asked him to get in and begin molding me in his image. He didn’t wait or punish me for ignoring him for so long. He didn’t make me prove myself to him by hitting so many hours in prayer or so many Bible verses read; he saw my heart, heard my pleas, and went to work.
It’s so simple yet I missed it for so long.
Looking back at who I was when I really started this Jesus journey and seeing what remodeling he’s done–where he’s torn down some walls, where he’s put some doors, and where he’s put up new walls–it’s kinda fun. The things I would have changed aren’t necessarily top priority for him and some things I hadn’t been paying attention to were areas he did (or is doing) a lot of work. Seeing myself–good and not-so-good though his eyes–has made more sense and been more beautiful than I could have imagined.
It’s not always been easy and there’s been a little more mess than I anticipated, but like any good remodeling job, the end is worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
I know through this process, all the little details I wonder what-if about were in his hands the whole time. Even when I wasn’t living for Jesus, he was still an active participant in my life. I see how when I chose the wrong path, he still made good of my bad. I see how he offered grace and second chances when I just knew my way was better. I see how he taught me lessons whether I wanted to hear them or not.
I know this life, at this very moment, is exactly where I’m supposed to be. And that makes all the what-could-have-been things seem pretty insignificant.
The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard, or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ. -Oswald Chambers