When our older children were much younger (and there were fewer of them), we lived in a charming 1894 Victorian house. I really loved the house except for two things: it had only two bedrooms and it had a small kitchen. (Well, I thought it was small at the time...plus it wasn't ugly. If I had only know what I would be "moving up" to, I would have appreciated it more.) As we had more children and were squeezing number #4 into the same bedroom as the other three, I suffered acutely from an affliction I call 'house envy'. I always had a touch of it, but as we outgrew our home I suffered from it more and more. It is a dreadful disease that causes the sufferer to not be able to see the positives about their own living situation but to only see the faults. It is exacerbated by visiting the houses of others, especially if those houses are bigger or nicer or newly remodelled. It got so that there were certain homes which I just didn't want to go into because of how badly I felt afterward. I was pretty pathetic. I do look back fondly on that first house, but I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had let myself enjoy living there more.
From the too small house we moved to the big, ugly house. (Or the money pit as I'm thinking of it these days.) When I say big, it's really what I mean, as in, we-don't-use-all-the-bedrooms-and-we-have-six-children big. I find it a bit embarrassing, actually. The fact that the house had so many areas of extreme ugliness and dysfunction plus the lack of heat in many rooms helped to ease my guilt over living here. But much of that will be fixed by June. While I'm excited about the new kitchen and new windows and the heating system and pipes to bathrooms that carry appropriate amounts of water, I'm finding that I'm not sure that I want other people to see it. I wish somehow I could make a holograph of the previous kitchen so that visitors would just see that. Having lived through several years of extreme house envy, I don't want to be the cause of it in others. But this desire to not let anyone see the kitchen happens to be in direct conflict with my other mode of alleviating guilt which is to open our home to as many people as possible. Since we have the space, I am glad we can be the ones to host guests and classes and such. It would be difficult to hide the kitchen. I'm just feeling a bit conflicted about it all.
On the positive side, I find this house to be an ever present example of grace. J's mother helped us to buy this house. Left to our own resources there is no way we could have even dreamed of living here. It was a gift from a loving mother to her children. It was not the result of anything that J or I did or because we somehow deserved it, but was purely a result of her love for us. I am humbled by such generosity. We are doing the kitchen project mainly for her. It was one of her wishes that she would be able to see the new kitchen before she died...but cancer works on its own timetable. God's grace is in many ways the same. God offers us his love and grace and salvation as a gift. It is not offered because of something we've done. It is not something we deserve. It is the gift of a loving Father to His children. J's mother paid the price of the house so we could live here, and God paid the price of our salvation with His life so that we could live with Him.