My mom and stepdad are moving, and my little family and I recently went up to help. We did all of the usual moving tasks–sorting, packing, hauling, loading, unloading. It was all totally routine. I was on an organizational mission, and we were quickly getting things checked off my list.
Until everyone left me alone.
My mom and stepdad are making this change for good reasons. They are choosing to downsize–to simplify their lives. After caring for 20 acres and a big house and huge barn for more than 25 years, they are relocating to less than an acre and a much smaller ranch-style house. They have decided to move on their own terms instead of possibly being forced into moving some day due to circumstances beyond their control. There is wisdom and freedom in their decision, and I am proud to see them move out of their comfort zone to realize their goals. So many people live their lives, paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. Change, especially in certain seasons of life, can be a scary thing.
Knowing all of this, and being one of their biggest cheerleaders along the way, I was completely caught off-guard by the waves of emotion that came over me last weekend. As everyone left on various moving errands, I volunteered to stay behind to sort and pack in my old bedroom. I came across so many memories of times in that house–all of which were good memories. I remembered friends from high school spending the night, prayerful preparation for mission trips, coming home on spring break from college to discover that my mom had hidden Easter eggs for me to find, doing my hair for my wedding, putting my sleeping firstborn in the pack ‘n’ play for her first overnight at Grammy’s, reading Popcorn and Basil Brush Gets a Medal to my little ones, just like my mom read to me. Memory after happy memory overwhelmed me and I wept as I sorted through old photos and Christmas decorations, handmade cards from my kids and dusty softball trophies. So many good times are associated with that house.
I am thankful for the season we have had in that house. It has served our family well, and I will always remember it with fondness However, the real focus of my affection will forever belong to the people who have loved within its walls. We are in no way perfect. We have our disagreements, our hurts, our insecurities and a maybe a few skeletons tucked away. We have made mistakes like everyone else, and we have been sometimes slow to swallow our pride and to make amends. But, we have loved each other. Unfailingly. Imperfectly. Unconditionally.
The house is not what makes a home. It is the people who live there. I am so thankful for my mom and stepdad who have opened the doors of that house to me and to the people I love for decades. They have made that house a place of rest, of laughter, of celebration and of peace for so many. I pray that the young family that moves in experiences even more joy and love and security within its walls than we have.
As I carried out the last box, I took a look around my old room. There was nothing left for me in it. Everything I truly loved was moving on. That room was just a symbol of something much more lasting than a house. It was a symbol of the love I had experienced within its walls.