I don't know how else to say this without betraying the truth or being too self-incriminating: during the hours before people are coming over to our house, I turn into Medusa. I'm talking full-fledged venomous snakes for hair and looking upon me will turn a person to stone. Really, I do become pretty much the worst version of myself and I'm pretty sure I put the fear of God into my husband. Words that I wouldn't normally say just fly out of my mouth. Words like: "how do I keep finding more dirty clothes at every single turn, do we live in a giant laundry basket?" Or: "would it kill you to throw away a single piece of trash in your entire life?" I regret them almost the instant that I say them and my only saving grace is that my husband has come to accept this alter-ego in me and has the sense to laugh at me, albeit very quietly to himself lest he be turned to stone.
Tonight the two cosmic forces of one of my greatest desires and greatest fears collided and we hosted Young Life club at our church house. We are in the middle of doing all this work, after we have demolished most of our house, and I am not exaggerating when I say that an hour and a half before high school kids came knocking at our door we had to drag our mattress-- the one we sleep on, with all the pillows and disheveled covers-- off the living room floor and into one of our unfinished spaces. Yesterday I told Nathan that I really didn't want all of our clothes in the living room when people came over, and tonight it was a close call. Did I mention that we had to hang the bathroom door about twenty minutes before people came over, so they could have a little privacy? During the dreaded hours before house guests one of our sweet neighbors dropped by to bring us a bottle of sparkling wine and the second thing out of my mouth was to yell at my dog as she strolled out the front door: "get your ass back here. Right. Now. And go to time out." To be fair, the first thing was, "hi, Le." I've got to give myself a little credit.
It turned out to be a pretty awesome night. We have a lot of new Young Life leaders volunteering who bring energy and skill to club and who desire to get to know these high school kids, and this house really is the perfect setting. One of the things Nathan and I have always said about this place is that it was built to be a community space and we mean to keep it that way. A few people came up to Nathan and me throughout the night and said things like, "you really live here?" or "you have the sickest house ever." At one point I told someone that it is a dream and a nightmare and I felt a little bad about that. Sometimes I think I am a little too honest about how difficult it is to turn this space into what we see in our mind's eye. After all, the greatest things in life are often the hardest. We believe this house is a gift from God, even though it has not been handed over on a silver platter.
The other week I heard someone say, "God is for us even more than we are," and I cannot shake those words. It is so true because we would never choose some of these things for ourselves, especially not the things that hurt. Sure, it sounds like a good idea to buy this cool, old church building because think about all the people we can host and how awesome Young Life club will be. But then you move in and you realize that it hardly functions as a house and most days it is too messy to invite anyone over. When we are sitting here in the life that we have built together, looking at tiny houses on Craigslist because that sounds like a pretty good idea at this point, we wonder why we started this process in the first place. The thing is that we may or may not have chosen this for ourselves if we knew what we were getting into, but now that we are here we have no choice but to forge ahead. Because, in all likelihood, this really is the best life for us and this house is the best setting.
This morning I walked into work and my boss opened the door and said in a very cheery voice, "good morning, are you excited about club tonight?" I said, "I would be if I weren't so exhausted," and a moment later my co worker said, "nice bed head, Ashley." We have been staying up late and getting up early-- well, early for us-- just to make things happen and I cannot help but believe that these are the days we will eventually look back on with wonder and gratitude. This is the time for us to make our cameos in the story of what this building means to this community. This is the life we never knew we always wanted.