So yesterday, October 10th, officially marked six years since the day of our house fire. There are some days it doesn’t feel like that long ago – especially when people are burning things other than leaves and firewood… and even then I can get a little shaky. And of course there are aspects of that experience I’ll never forget… like how surreal everything felt in the moment – waking up to breaking glass and smoke and flames licking through our kitchen, Ryan’s pleading voice telling me it was too late to go back for anything – or how I was blowing soot from my nose for a several days afterwards. But there are also plenty of days when that feels like forever ago… So much has happened in those last six years – so many other events and areas of focus… I think that’s what makes things seem like ages ago – when we have our focus on other more important things.
You know, I look back and I think about where we were. We were young when we bought that house, and our excitement over a home in the country with an acre of land blinded us to the problems the house actually had. It wasn’t until we moved in that we started to see all the problems… problems that had been cleverly concealed by the previous owner too… (My two cents – never buy a realtor’s home – they know all the tricks to hide problems.) We had a roof that needed repairs, a bathroom that was riddled in mold – hidden behind paint and plastic tiles and flooring that concealed rotten wood. And when the first heavy rain came – every spackled and painted over crack in our basement walls broke free and began leaking. We didn’t have much money-wise as newly weds… and that first home took every spare sent we had for repairs. We learned how to get by with VERY little (I’m talking $6 for a week’s worth of groceries). And yet – we were happy together. Stressed, sure… but happy.
So that fire – while it was scary and challenging and a new hurdle to overcome – it brought us some solutions to our problems. All those home repairs went away as a new house went up to take the old one’s place. And those much fewer home repairs meant that we now had a little extra money in our pockets to tuck away. I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it is to have an emergency fund again and to not have to stress about every penny. Sure we lost irreplaceable things like the love letters Ryan wrote me, a favorite toy dog my grandpa had given me, and other cherished momentos. But we truly gained a lot more from it.
And I think this is a perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes we don’t realize how big a problem we have until it’s behind us. We’re so often in the trenches and focused on overcoming “this thing” that we’re battling that we struggle to see the bigger picture. And that’s okay – but sometimes stepping back and gaining perspective can be a really good thing – for our health, our relationships, our sanity. I’m grateful for such a stable relationship and so many loved ones willing to help us through that difficulty – I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been without those things. But I’m also grateful for the perspective that experience gave me and the blessings that have come from it as well.
So whatever battle you are waging… I hope you can take some time to step back and look at the bigger picture and see the blessings in the battle. Because sometimes I wonder if that’s the point of the struggle – to help us see how blessed we really are.