Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Calling on the Carpenter of Nazareth for Help with House-Selling Stress

According to a survey in the Daily Mail, selling a house is one of most stressful experiences people go through, topping death and divorce. 

Although I’d much rather lose a house than lose my husband, having sold five houses during the lifetime of our marriage, I can see why people think that way.

Like the marble in a pinball machine, the process of house-selling lights up every nerve of anxiety, high hope, crushed hope, rejection and self-respect in the human body. Strangers poke in your closets, widen their eyes about that paint color you liked so much but now want to blame on the previous owner, and inspect your refrigerator, did you remember to dump that squishy squash out of the vegetable bin? But don’t take it personally, your realtor advises.

And don’t be offended when that same eye-rolling couple offers you ten-thousand less and wants you to throw in your new front-loading, steam-drying, music-playing washer/dryer set along with those ten floor-to-ceiling Pottery Barn window panels you’ve wanted for so long.

The dread of having to carry on life in a house that is so immaculately impersonal it looks as though no one actually lives there, or having to pack up the pooch and flee out the door on a moment’s notice, may tempt you to take that first offer. But wait—is it really a good decision, or is fear making you a desperate desperado?

Whether it’s a house offer, book contract, job, date or mate, the first is not always the best.

Sometimes you have to trust yourself to wait.

I knew when a young couple, first-time buyers, put an offer on our house a few hours after it went on the market. I knew they had wanted a new, easy maintenance house but were suddenly charmed by our big, old southern belle. I knew their realtor wasn’t a fan of their decision as she handed over their best offer.

 I knew we shouldn’t have signed a contract that tied up our house on the very first day, causing a dozen or so viewings to withdraw their appointments.

But we did it anyway

A week later, the buyers’ realtor, the buyers and the inspector arrived on our doorstep with the intensity of hounds on a hunt. They started in the attic. My husband hadn’t gotten as far as his truck when they came fleeing out the door, the realtor yelping something about seeing daylight in the eaves and poor 100-year-old rafter construction.

They immediately withdrew their offer leaving us where we’d begun. Actually worse off. Once I heard the bad report, the giants of impossibilities stomped through my mind, and I sank into the slough of despair.

This house is so old we can never fix all that is needed (This, after having spent about $70,000 in fixer-upper projects on it.) I’m embarrassed to remarket it now that it didn’t make it through an inspection. How can we possibly rebuild the whole stinking thing to make it like a new house? How can I bear to go through another inspection—what if it fails? 

I worried during the day. I fretted late into the night. Like David, “I pour{ed} my complaint before him” in the early morning hours.

And then it hit me.

 Jesus was a carpenter!

Surely he would know how to rectify the ailments of this old house. (The fact that he also created the universe didn’t escape me, but somehow thinking of him as a carpenter brought the problem down to size.) I started praying to the Carpenter of Nazareth. Could it be the problems weren’t as bad as the previous people had thought? Would he send an inspector who understood and liked old houses?

We put the house back on the market. It quickly went under contract a second time and was again scheduled for an inspection. For the next week, anxiety stuck closer to me than my shadow on a sunny day. Morning, noon and night I beseeched the Carpenter of Nazareth to fortify old beams, fill in ancient insect trails and find favor with the inspector.

 The day of the dreaded inspection, I left early to avoid running into the inspector. To my chagrin, he was still there when I came home. He rounded the corner as I was bolting for the door.

“Are you the homeowner?” he asked.

The jig was up. I hesitated, then turned to face him.

“Great house,” he said.

Of course it’s easy for me to tell you, now, a year later, from the comfort of a new home, to wait on the Lord and trust yourself with the discernment he’s given you. Although stressful, selling a house is not death and not divorce. Still, it’s not too small a matter for the Lord. Remember—even though it may seem he’s not concerned with your real estate dealings, he’s been in the business for quite awhile—moving a whole nation into their promised land, in spite of their side trips, back-tracking and downright stubbornness.

Getting people home is his business.

In the joy of that Carpenter of Nazareth,



  1. Truly a journey as a sister and brother in Christ! I will forever cherish the lessons and friendship. I love your story telling soul, and I love you and Bob.


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