Where to Live
Written by Donald Hughes, 2019
My wife and I have lived in several houses over the years. One of the joys in our journey through life and marriage is to be on the lookout for another place to fix-up and return it to its former glory. Even now, when we are not actively seeking out another project, we find ourselves looking at houses just for the enjoyment of it. We like to see what others have done to improve their property, or we get ideas on what we can incorporate into our own home. Over the years, and many houses later, I have come to realize that the actual practice of seeing an old, dilapidated house as something more than worn siding, loose railings and broken windows is very rewarding. Seeing what the house has the potential of becoming, and show casing the pride that the original builder or artisan had envisioned when it was being built takes effort. My wife is especially gifted at this talent.
The more I think of it, the more parallels I see between these houses, and individual lives I have come to cross paths with over the years. How many houses do we drive by on any given day, and not really look at them or pay attention to them? In addition, if we do, do we only see the grass not mowed, perhaps an un kept yard, porches that lean or clutter and other negative things? Or, do we see the character in the roofline, or how the shape of the windows reflect the sunlight, or the unique way the builder designed the porch? Do we see the potential and the beauty of the craftsmanship in the house, or do we just see another property in a cluster of countless others?
And so it is with people. First of all, do we actually notice them in our busy lives, or are they just another life in the cluster of others? The mini-mart clerk, a waiter at the cafe, or the girl in the drive up window. And if we do, do we only see un kept clothing, maybe un brushed hair or a tattoo we find offensive. Or do we see them as their Maker see them? Each person has a story, a history and a life that has been through trials and experiences both good and bad. And like a house, bears the scars of weather and time, of perhaps abuse and neglect, and maybe even rambunctious teens and children all taking their toll on the fascia. But underneath is rich mahogany flooring, cast-iron railing and rock solid foundation. You will not see it until you see it. But it is there, underneath layers of dust and years of living life.
I have noticed also, that when looking at various properties, it is easy to see them in one of three time zones. The past, the present, or the future. You can see what it was, and what the past has done to the structure or the face of the property, or you can see what it looks like now and see the good in it and what needs immediate attention, and you can see what it will be or could be with proper care and concern. If you just let it continue to exist in the past, it will never be improved upon and continue its decline. If you just let it exist in the present and not repair and maintain its foundation, plumbing, electrical, roofing, and other details it will never appreciate to its potential. And, if you just hope that it will have a bright future in an unpredictable market, or worry a tornado might come along so why bother, it will never be lived in now and enjoyed. So it is with each of us.
We can choose to live in one of those same three time zones too. We can continue to live in the past, bitter and sad, remorseful or angry at choices we made, or how we were treated. We can dream about how things used to be, or should have been. Or, we can choose to learn from mistakes, repair damages that were done, repent of hurtful actions and improve on good foundations and choices. We can choose to invest in ourselves, find our potential and capitalize on our strengths. Or, we can do nothing, and hope that we will win a lottery in the future and life will not be grand until we do. Or, we can worry we will get hit by a bus crossing the street or get sick and die before enjoying retirement and the grandchildren. By living in the past, we stay stuck there and doomed to experiencing the consequences of the past, never really enjoying what can be accomplished today. By living in the future, we are doomed to constant worry and fear of the unknown, or to storing up and investing our allotted time today for some event in life that may never happen. But by living today, seeing the past for what it was and making the necessary changes, and realizing that there are no guarantees about tomorrow but hope and potential, and not letting either time zone consume the only one we really have control of, the present.
So, next time you drive by an old house, and an old neighbor, look past the decay and into the windows and eyes and enjoy what the master builder had in mind with His creation. See the potential; see the grand lines and strong pillars, the firm foundation and maybe you can even find something to incorporate into your own back yard of life that is of great worth.