Monday, September 19, 2016

An empty house

For two hours I sat alone in three thousand square feet of emptiness. The home has been on the market for over a year and vacant for most of that time. The owners have moved on. Their lives have taken them away from their custom built home on the hill with perfect views of the sunset and soaring twelve foot ceilings. Maybe it was a job transfer or an unfortunate end to a marriage that cut the family's stay in their dream home short. Or maybe their dream just changed, grew bigger or shrunk smaller, switched locations or shifted to the city. I'll never know. All I will know is that they left an empty TV mounting system on the living room wall and the kitchen with a refrigerator still sticky from life's messes.
After a year on the market all interested parties have, presumably, seen this home. They have clicked through the pictures online, taken a tour and attended one of the many open houses. At least that's what I assume since not one person came by the open house I had for the home over a year after it first hit the market. Not even one single car slowed down at the "open house" sign predominantly displayed in the front yard. Inside I baked cookies and set out marketing materials, business cards and a sign-in sheet complete with a Howard Hanna pen for guests. But two hours later not one signature was on the sheet and the cookies were untouched.
For those two hours I stood inside the house, pacing about, doing yoga poses to kill time and filling out announcement cards to prospective clients. I flipped through a free local publication, "The Erie Reader," that I had picked up at a newspaper stand a few days prior and scanned upcoming events and strange news facts from around the world. I diligently watched my cookies as they baked in the oven and was able to complete all three batches without burning a single tray, my most impressive accomplishment of the day.
As I stood in the empty house without a chair to sit on or TV to turn on for background noise, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the irony of my Sunday afternoon. There I was in a big house, cleared out of every piece of furniture and every spec of clutter. The home was and is completely move-in ready, just sitting there waiting for its next inhabitants. But no one even came to take a look. A big, expansive house with four bedrooms, three garages and two and half bathrooms couldn't spark the interest of even one casual house hunter or a single noisy neighbor. A house perfectly suited to house a family with kids and a dog didn't have one visitor walk through the door.

The non-existent turn out might have not hit me so pointedly if it had not reminded me of myself. Completely alone. Like that house I feel ready and prepared to not be lonely. I'm ready to invite life, love and laughter into my own little world. I want to be home for someone. I want to be security, safety and sanctuary to someone. I've spent years getting ready for a special someone to come and take up residence in my life. Like that house sitting vacant on the market, I've had my inner house cleaned out. God has been busy removing all of the unnecessary baggage of my past. He's hauled out so many habits and misguided dreams that don't glorify Him. He's scrubbed my spirit and left everything empty so that He can refurbish my life with all that is beautiful and bright. And yet no one has come to share in this life with me. God has yet to bring a buyer or even a casual looker. For six long years I have been sitting vacant, as it were, on the romantic, life-partner, companionship market. 
But as I sat in the empty house surrounded by silence and filled with my own thoughts, I remembered that in another way I am just like that house. Someday someone will buy that house. Someone will move into the area or maybe a family will move in search of a bigger house and more bedrooms. Who the next home owners will be only God knows but I know this for sure, someday that house will sell with or without the buyer having attended a single open house.
And so it will be with my heart. Someday someone will come along and join me in this journey of life. He may not come along in the way I assume. In real estate terms, we may not meet at an open house. But we will meet in God's time and in God's way - the perfect way. Our lives will join together and the furniture will fit just right. There will be life and laughter in the now still and silent places of my heart. All of the preparations I have made for this special someone will not be in vain. All of the work God has been doing in my heart and all of the planning I have been doing in my mind will prove worthwhile in the end.
Today my open heart is empty and vacant. There is ample space but the right buyer hasn't come walking through the door. Someday he will but until then I'm going to enjoy the serenity of an uncluttered home. I'm going to bake cookies, practice my yoga stretches and keep sending out cards to clients because my house doesn't have to be physically full of stuff to be of value and worth. God has plans for me while I wait in my empty open house. He has things for me to accomplish, ways He intends for me to grow and blessings for me to experience.
I couldn't bring a buyer for the home on the hill. I couldn't even bring a prospect or a solitary name on the sign in sheet. But in my heart God accomplished something much greater than any real estate sale. He brought me peace, serenity and joy in the stillness.
A successful open house, indeed.

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