The blue house on 67th street in Kansas was supposed to be a home of renewal. A place of new life and new unions. But I didn’t want a new life. I didn’t want a new house, a new school, or a new father. This large blue home with a wide porch for swinging and plenty of space for a group of girlfriends is the house that often interrupts my sleep. The house that invades my current happy life. Memories of painful conversations in the stairway with the peeling wallpaper, and creaking stairs, and hauntings of the old cellar door, an entrance to the dark damp basement that always scared a younger me.
We moved here after the divorce and before the wedding. A new chapter for my mom and the new husband. A time of great fear and sadness for for a thirteen-year-old pre-pubescent me. Mom kept most of the beautiful furniture and paintings, and her new man built gorgeous kitchen cabinets and a massive china hutch. The rooms could have been photographed in a magazine with their perfectly designed interior, I could have cared less. Another school, another home, and now a man I was to call my “Step Dad.” A man with a scraggly mustache and a persistent odor of sawdust. This home was going to be an awful and terrible place.
Or so I thought.
The room that was my own could be found in the farthest corner of the house. My space. My respite. With a white brass daybed nestled between the slanted walls and one large stereo system with huge speakers, I could disappear from the world in this room. When I wasn’t playing “The Smiths” records over and over, I could be found under my yellow, fluffy, flowered Laura Ashley covers with a tiny sliver of lamp reading the V.C. Andrew’s books I wasn’t supposed to read. My forbidden fruit. Cigarettes were the same, a forbidden long Camel cigarette held between my fingers as I blew the toxic air out my window. I was mad and angry. And these things soothed me. I had no prayers. Only my books, cigarettes and music in my room with the slanted walls.
Until I saw Blake.
The hot upperclassmen that I chased at school and in my mind. In my room at night I would dream, plot and plan about the times I could pass him in the hall or simply smile at him. My friend told me he was religious. I didn’t quite understand what that meant. Church and God were like the turkey served at Thanksgiving. It happened once and on special occasions. Church was for holidays and a place for us to parade our newest and prettiest clothing. Something we did because that was what good families did. But Blake had something different that didn’t seem to match with our family and our religion. He was involved in something called Young Life, a youth group that sounded fun and exciting. And of course, I followed him there.
A decision, or really a series of decisions, during the time in the blue house, changed my life forever. Because it was through Young Life where I didn’t get the boy, but got Jesus.
And it was in this room, my room, where I began to dive into the pages of The Bible. In the safety of my own bed where I said my first prayers. The first ones I remember, “Dear God, please give me big boobs and long hair. Amen.” Later they became deeper. I had to start somewhere.
With all the magazine appearances this house held, the marriage didn’t. And as my world around me began to fall apart yet again, I didn’t. I had something to hold onto. A lifeline and a relationship with my creator that held my hand through it all. My pretty room where the walls could write stories of a teenager’s whispered prayers and a childlike faith.
The house is no longer ours; it was sold when the marriage fell apart. And when it returns to me in my dreams, I try to walk myself to the room with the daybed. The room where hope was born and new life was given.
The house is gone; my faith isn’t. I know a zip code doesn’t make me who I am, nor does my story, but it is in the fabric of my faith and journey with Christ where my story lives. Not in the blue house on 67th street. And then I think of this verse and I smile.
Isaiah 41: 8 -10 (The Message)
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Lee Wolfe Blum is a mental health practitioner, national speaker and author. Her first book was a memoir Table in the Darkness: A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder and her second book, Brave is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to be the Real You released March 1st. She has three teenage boys who keep her busy in what she calls, “the frat house.” Her work can be seen in The Huffington Post, Christianity Today, and on her website. You can follow her on twitter or Facebook.
Welcome to a guest series I’m calling, “Home: Musings and Memories.” I’ve invited writers from all over the Internet to share their stories from home—in part, because next month, I’m publishing a book called, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home (IVP, May 2017). I believe home is our most fundamental longing, homesickness our most nagging grief. Most of all, I believe that the historic Christian faith has something to say about that desire and disappointment.
The story of Jesus is a home story.
Thanks for joining me and these other fantastic writers in the months ahead in our search for home—and the God who makes its hope possible.