It was over five years ago now that my family bought the falling apart fixer-upper that is no longer falling apart and we still call home today. When we signed the dotted line that day, I had grand visions of future happiness because of this house. Once we fixed it up and sold it, we could go buy the house I really wanted in a nicer neighborhood, with a bigger yard, a screen porch, and garage. Then I’d be happy.
Does this sound familiar?
Someday, when things are a little bit better. As soon as I have that, accomplish something else, live there…then I’ll be happy.
Life doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes, right where we are is where we find we’re truly content.
I found myself in a home with few closets, no pantry, no attic, no basement and no garage. This meant that I didn’t room to stash stuff I wasn’t using. Everything in our home had to be functional, or we got rid of it. I couldn’t buy new things just because I liked them, without a care for where it would actually go.
Slowly, as years went by and we renovated our house as the monthly budget allowed, I learned to be happy with what I had, knowing that inside these walls was everything I needed.
Something about washing dishes in the bathroom sink when the kitchen was gutted, sleeping on a bed in the living room while the bedrooms were renovated, and taking showers in the backyard with a hose while the shower got tiled made me realize how lucky I was to have what I did.
I no longer wanted three bathrooms—who wants to clean them, anyway? I no longer wanted a great room or a screen porch for the joyous family time I envisioned in such expansive spaces. The little living room we had was all I needed for ticklefests and movie nights with my family.
Photo from Remodeling This Life
And the kitchen is a place to make the food that brings us together each day, no matter what it looks like. I found myself being completely happy, right where I was.
There is no secret formula for finding contentment, but going without certainly helps. It’s not always easy to appreciate what is always right there in front of us. It becomes so part of the ordinariness of our days that it’s hard now to remember the days before when things weren’t as good.
But when I close my eyes at night in my new bedroom, or when I take a long, hot bath in the new bathtub, or when I stack my dishes into the dishwasher, I can remember when it wasn’t like that, and I’m happy for what is, in all of its unexpected, small everydayness.
How can we not be happy just to have what we have? To know that having a home, food to cook, and family to spend our days with are such blessings?
When I let go of the idea of someday happiness, I found it in everything around me. I didn’t need a bigger house to be happy, and I certainly didn’t need something prettier on my walls, or nicer bedding, or fancier gadgets in the kitchen. There are things that make our lives easier or prettier, but I learned that none of those external things was going to make my life better.
Beautiful, happy moments happen in big houses, small houses, fixed-up houses, and outdated houses. They take place in itty-bitty studio apartments, and they take place in homes we own or spaces we rent. The beautiful moments, the contentment with what we have comes from within, not from the walls around us.
How are you grateful today for your home?