The 5-Word Prayer

My head and heart were conflicted.

As we walked out the front door after that first house tour, my heart was racing. Could this finally be the house? It felt like home as soon as we walked into the front entry that day, and I honestly hadn’t been expecting that. We’d already walked through so many homes—desperate to find one when our own house sold in only four days on the market—but we always left feeling defeated. The feeling was completely different today. Defeated? No. Hopeful? Definitely.

But why was I getting my hopes up? Just as soon as I let myself even think—hope—that this house was it, my brain kicked into high gear with all the reasons why it just wasn’t going to work out:

It was “too much house” for us. (We didn’t need that much space. Does anyone?)

It was too nice for us. (Who were we to deserve a nice house, anyway?)

Only a couple years earlier, we’d all but committed (or maybe resigned?) ourselves to staying put in our modest (yet perfectly adequate) split-level home, knowing that it’d be paid off in a few short years.

Were we prepared to give that up now? Did it really make financial sense for us to “upgrade”?

I turned to Drew, willing my feelings not to be written all over my face. (Those of you who know me well know what an impossible task that is, however. I don’t do poker faces.)

“What’d you think?” I asked, tentatively.

He didn’t say much at first, which was different than the typical response. After the last few showings, he’d basically just said, “Nope, not it.” And for the most part, I agreed with him. There was always something that felt like a deal-breaker in the houses we’d seen so far. Knowing that no house would be perfect, I was starting to feel a little frantic, maybe even a little resentful of Drew’s consistent “Nope” responses.

With the closing on our own house looming, I started to become fearful that we’d have to secure temporary housing somewhere before we found the house we were ultimately supposed to buy.

I started to doubt that selling our house—our beloved house of 11 years, the house we struggled to conceive and fervently prayed for babies in, mourned our lost babies in, and finally brought our babies home to—was already promised to another growing family, and in a few weeks time, we’d be without a home.

I’d been the one who suggested putting our house on the market in the first place. Even though our house was fine, I was becoming weary of our tiny shared bathroom upstairs, the lack of storage in our kitchen, always feeling cramped when we had people over. The bedrooms were small, and as the girls grew out of their cribs and toddler beds, it became clear that their rooms wouldn’t accommodate much more than the bare essentials.

Knowing that the market had improved from a few years earlier when we’d tried to sell our house during our brief stint in Kalamazoo, I contacted a realtor and asked her to give us an idea of what our house was worth in the current market. Her answer was what cinched the deal for me—I was ready to sign on the dotted line and get it listed after our first meeting.

Now I was experiencing regret over being so hasty. Our home was all but sold, but there was no house we loved enough to commit to. I felt as though I’d made a rash decision, possibly hadn’t prayed about it enough. Had the Lord really been leading us to move, or had I made a huge mistake going down this path? Had the prospect of it being “a good time to sell” clouded the only real opinion that mattered: whether it was God’s will for us?

“I don’t know, Em,” Drew replied, interrupting my thoughts.

“Yeah…” I nodded, knowing what was coming next.

“This might be it,” he finished.

I looked him straight in the eyes to make sure he wasn’t messing with me, but all I saw there was sincerity. “Really?” I replied, doubtful.

“You don’t think so?” he said.

“I mean, I love it,” I admitted. “But it’s too much…isn’t it?”

“Probably,” he nodded.

Our realtor walked over to us just then. “What’d you think, guys?” she asked.

We both looked at each other, and in the next moment said, “We should probably put an offer on it.”

The next few days were a blur of negotiations. The night before our last counter-offer was submitted, I couldn’t sleep.

I sat out in our living room in the dark by myself, watching the familiar shadows of the trees outside dance across the far wall. Tears streamed down my face as my head and heart duked it out inside me.

I still wasn’t completely sure that buying this house was the right thing. Sure, we wanted it. It was as close as any of the houses we’d seen to checking off all the boxes, it was in a location we loved, and (most importantly) Drew and the girls and I were all excited about it and agreed that it felt like home.

At the same time, I felt a lot of guilt. Hadn’t I said to friends and acquaintances many times that living a simpler life was my goal? How was buying a larger, nicer house in line with that goal? Was I just being greedy and getting caught up in the rat race?

I picked up my phone and called Kate, crying.

“Are you okay?” she asked, concerned. (In retrospect, she probably thought someone was hurt based on how I sounded.)

“I just don’t know if we’re supposed to get this house,” I wailed. “I feel like a fraud. I love it, but I don’t deserve it. I’ve always said we don’t need something this nice, but I can’t help myself. Something about it just feels right. Am I a horrible person?”

“No,” she replied. “Of course not. But if you truly feel this conflicted, why don’t you pray about it? You know, bless it or block it?”

I sniffed, reaching for a tissue. “Yeah…” I replied. “That’s exactly what I need to do. Thanks, hon.”

After I hung up, I prayed and basically asked the Lord to have the deal fall apart if we weren’t supposed to go down this path. If it was His will, I asked that the deal would go through smoothly without further negotiations.

The next morning, our final counter-offer was accepted.

I knew, then, that I had to have faith that our path forward would be blessed, because it certainly hadn’t been blocked.

This coming Memorial Day weekend we’ll celebrate our two-year anniversary in this house. Our move to this house, which has truly felt like home from the start, has been a blessing in so many ways. We love our neighborhood. We’ve met so many wonderful people, made good friends, and the kids always seem to have other kids to play with and are mostly free to roam, as kids should. I’ve become involved with a women’s Bible Study in the neighborhood, and it has been a wonderful source of fellowship and support to me.

Even though my head never completely reconciled some of the more practical concerns over our move (or worrying about what others would think about it, if I’m being honest), I know that those aren’t the only factors that go into decision-making. If we had weighted our decision purely on what our heads were telling us, we may not have moved forward with buying this house.

And the thought of that, now knowing all of the blessings that have come along with the move, helps me remember that sometimes this simple 5-word prayer is all we can really do when our heads and hearts are at odds.

Written by Ember

Wife and mother of 2 girls. Bookworm. Coffee addict. Lover of shoes. Killer of most plants. I write for a living, and live for writing.

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