Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Excruciating Highs and Lows of...buying a house?

You've been there. You get it. The emotional roller coaster of buying a house. Was it this difficult to choose a college or to find a spouse?

It's very difficult to explain. My kids are healthy and so are we, so why were we so down when we were outbid for 30 year old house on a busy street?

Historically it's rare for a despised Californian (an oxymoron to many) to move out of state and purchase real estate and end up with less of a house. Though billions of people willingly moved to CA for decades, driving up the cost of living, the Californians did it too and received a backlash. The tradeoff in moving from Beverly Hills to Little Rock, let's say, is exchanging year-round 70 degree weather for humidity and cheap real estate. "I can buy how much with my money? WOW! The beach is overrated anyway."

When we moved to Texas last year we salivated at the lower cost of housing. But times have changed and most Americans are just happy to have a job. When we arrived in our beautiful new home, we knew that the price of living in a "National Park" has its downside - housing prices.

So last week we made an offer on a house we thought was perfect: great floorplan, 4 bedrooms, big backyard, and relatively affordable. Sadly we were outbid. With seemingly only a few bucks for a down payment, we grieved the reality of our last five years of money management. Though we may not have changed a thing if time travel were possible, we almost ache at how much life costs. Where did that investment of California real estate go?

As my good friend, Brian, told me yesterday - "People are grieving the loss of their money." It's very true. It's difficult to have perspective - but necessary. My head says "grow up" - my heart says "it's not fair." If I can't overcome it and I obsess about "poor me" - then that's sin. If I can say "oh well" and know that more stuff doesn't make me happy, then I've learned the lesson of Solomon. He was the richest human in history. Early on he cared more about obedience to God. Later, he obsessed about his stuff and became the most miserable human on the planet.

If my disappointment ends up in unending grief, then maybe God needs to take away our cars, t-shirts, and ipods too. God, help me to be joyful with you alone.

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