Our transition to Pennsylvania seemed to be going so smoothly. Packing was well underway. Job and church obligations were being wrapped up in Illinois. I was counting the days until the move, the house closing, and the last day of work.

And then about two weeks ago, the house sale fell apart.

The house appraised for far less than the agreed-on price. The buyer’s financing would no longer work, but there seemed to be possibilities for saving the deal. But those didn’t work out. But there were other options, and the deal was back on. And then in one stunning and brilliant display of confusion, the buyers’ agent said that the buyers wanted the house and were pursuing alternative financing at nearly the same time that their attorney said that the deal was “null and void”.

Ever since, I’ve think I’ve been going through the stages of grief. The anger bothered me the most…

  • Anger at the appraiser for doing a bad job (which we shall not be discussed here);
  • Anger at FHA appraisals for not having an easy way to challenge them;
  • Anger at the people who could challenge them for being unwilling to do so;
  • Anger at the buyers’ agent and attorney for confusing messages and apparent lack of concern;
  • Anger at our agent and attorney for their inability to help save the deal;
  • Anger that my family had planned our move date to accommodate the deal and that we’d now be needlessly apart for two and a half weeks;
  • Anger at myself for being so angry.

That last one was the most significant. Life goes on. My family is healthy. We have food and shelter. We have love. We don’t lack anything.

And yet, it took me days to feel anything except the anger. (And fear. I guess there was fear, as well.)

I really didn’t like that side of me. It felt ugly. And I hated to admit my weakness. During that struggle, I was reminded of the classic spiritual discipline of asking oneself, “Where have I seen God today?” I confessed to one of my friends, “Sometimes we only observe God in God’s absence.”

In the midst of all of that, we traveled to Laurelville for the spring gathering of its association members. It was a trip that we would have made, even if we weren’t moving there. Jane Hoober Peifer was the featured speaker for the weekend. I was too distracted to remember much of what she said, but at some point she spoke about anxiety and gratitude. Sometimes when fear is too great, we have to take small steps. We remind ourselves that God has given us what we need for this minute… or maybe this hour or day. And when we have learned that, we can begin to think about the week or month. Eventually, we can rest fully in God’s care. I’m trying to do that now. So let me conclude by with some gratefulness…

  • At the darkest point in all of this, one friend (the one to whom I confessed God’s apparent absence) didn’t try to rationalize things or to cheer me up. She simply heard me and gave me a hug.
  • This past weekend, my family packed our things (with lots of help from friends) and moved everything to Laurelville. Being there helped me put things into perspective.
  • In the last couple of days, our house has gone back on the market. Already we have a showing for today and another for tomorrow.
  • One of the children from church made me a bracelet as a going-away present. She gave it to me last Saturday as we loaded the moving van. Last night, I returned to Illinois from Laurelville in order to finish my work at Argonne. In a moment of depression as I moved about the house that used to be my home, I encountered the bracelet. Like a hug without words, it reminds me of the love of my community.

Small glimmers of hope that help me to move forward.

Bracelet of love

I’m surrounded by love.