One year ago, Aaron and I boarded an airplane headed for a new life together. Just five days into marriage, with two suitcases and four moving boxes, we flew across the ocean to Hawaii. I have written about the move before - about how it was hard and new and vulnerable and lonely. Aaron and I will both tell you that the first four months were long - probably because he always had to wonder if he would come home from work to find me crying on the bed (eeek!). I flew back to Nebraska at the beginning of December, but from August to December, he endured a lot of my tears and sadness. There were certainly good things too - we had visitors and took a trip to Maui. There were date nights and dinners with friends and lots of trips to the beach.
I am well aware that most people are less dramatic about moving than I have been. I sometimes wish I were one of those people - I wish I could be you - but I’m just not. I want to be - I want to have zero cares about moving to any corner of the world at any given time and not care about who I get to see everyday and who I don’t. But I can’t do it. I need my people. That’s just how I’m wired and it was confirmed for me this year. Thankfully, by the mercy of the Lord and the patience of my husband, the whole of this year, from January til now, has been much better for me and for us than the first four months.
For the entirety of our year in Hawaii, Aaron and I have been working on the house we’re renting. You may have seen this on my Instagram stories from time to time. Well, it started out very, very bad. I walked into it the first day and felt despair, mostly because it wasn’t in a livable state with tools and dust and dirt littering the entire house. I could get past the green and brown, but it was the fact that we didn't own a couch or a bed or have a place to sit that wasn't covered in sawdust that really did me in. The second day we were in Hawaii, we spent nine hours pulling weeds and working on the landscaping, pulling out overgrown plants and grasses that were knee high in the backyard. We left tired, with sunburned backs and dirt under our fingernails.
The house was tented shortly before we moved to Hawaii, meaning a big tent covered the entire house and blasted all the termites that were living in its boards. The kitchen was already renovated by the time we moved in and the bathroom was mostly redone. But over the last twelve months we have painted every wall, inside and outside, painted all the trim, replaced air conditioners, built out a new closet so that our washer and dryer could be inside instead of under the house, repaired (and repaired and repaired) wood eaten away by termites. I have cleaned up endless dust piles and termite poop piles. We’ve caulked windows and doors and nearly the entire outside of the house. Admittedly Aaron has done a lot of the hardest work, like hanging new doors for every room, building out a new window in the kitchen, rewiring lights and AC and cutting out a new closet. I’ve been up on scaffolding and crawled under the house and if The Greatest Showman soundtrack was a record, I would have worn through it by now.
Sometimes the work seemed endless - and by sometimes, I mean a lot of times. But what I’ve realized recently - what God gave me a word about the other day - was that perhaps it’s not about the house. Maybe this year wasn’t about renovating a house, but instead building a foundation - creating a solid platform for what’s to come. Maybe each time we were replacing wood and walking the aisles of Lowe’s and City Mill, and building up rotted boards, we were actually building the walls of our marriage just like the walls of this house. We have worked hard and through it our relationship has grown and changed and become more sturdy. We have argued and cried and sweat and celebrated and built something from the ground up. We have endured change and joy and loss and walked each other through a lot of feelings in the midst of making this house a home.
So I think our marriage has taken shape much the same way this house has taken shape, little by little, with work from both of us. I feel like I could quote a rap song here like, “started from the bottom and now we here.” Certainly we have so much more to learn and experience. We are only one year into this thing. There will be more joy and more heartbreak and more laughing and growing, but we’ve built something so far that I’m pretty proud of. We have made decisions together (and then changed our minds ten times), problem solved together and encouraged and loved each other through all of it.
Aaron went home to Hawaii earlier this week, while I stayed back in Nebraska, but he told me that when he walked up to our house he looked at it and thought, “This actually looks pretty nice.” And it does! It’s really cute and we are both proud of the work we've done. But it’s like anything in life - all the good things take time and effort and sticking with it. So I’m proud of myself for pushing through the hard of moving to get to the good and proud of us for working to build a foundation of something really beautiful.
I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately and an often repeated phrase is, “So that you will know that I am the Lord.” Or, “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” There is description of some hard thing in life - some difficult circumstance for the Israelites - some devastation that the Lord is allowing but it’s so that they will know that he is the Lord. That’s the point of this whole thing - all of life is to point back to the one who gave us life in the first place. That’s the purpose. So if moving and enduring the hard things is to bring me back to a place of knowing that I’m not in control and I’m not in charge and I can’t do this on my own, well then mission accomplished. I have relied on the Lord to get me through to the next minute sometimes. And his grace and his mercy was sufficient for each moment, and then each hour and each day. He wants our dependency on him and that has grown infinitely this year, so I can label it all good. I can put a banner over it that says, “This was good for us. For me. For our marriage.” I can look at how far the house has come and know that our marriage has come along in the same way - little by little, growing into something wonderful. It has certainly been hard, but it has also been very, very good.
We're not done with the house and we're not moving back to Nebraska quite yet. There's more work to be done when I go back next week. But I'm thankful for where we've been and where we are now. Thankful for this year of growing and building and becoming.
So, happy one year, Hawaii life. You’ve been so many things. And 1122C holds all of it in her now more sturdy frame.