Listen instead

As our family started to grow, my husband and I decided that it was time to move from our small starter home into something larger. Although the new house was larger, the property was small. As our family was still growing, it wasn’t many years before we felt that we’d outgrown the new house.

Since my husband’s job was going well and our finances were in good order, we decided to look for our final home, one that would see us through the years of raising our family. We found it. It was beautiful and spacious with enough room for our children and all our things. We also had a HUGE backyard that backed onto a park. We loved the town and the neighborhood. We had friends living nearby. It was perfect, and we loved it from the moment we saw it. This was the place we would stay for the rest of our lives!!

Then life threw us a curveball. My husband had an injury at work. He lost his job and had to retrain in a totally different line of work. When he finished his schooling, it took a while for him to find a job at a 30% reduction in pay from his former position. Our finances were already strained because of his job loss; now, they were near the breaking point. We made the difficult but obvious decision to sell the house. (BTW, that’s not a picture of my former home, but the featured house is very spacious and does have a large yard.)

The house went up for sale, and we started our search for a new place. It was more difficult because we were looking for just the right setup to include an apartment that we could rent out. Our house was on the market for months and months, and we kept looking for a new place. The house sold, and we still were looking. The moving date was fast approaching, and we still had no luck finding a replacement house. We had four children and a house full of stuff, and we had no place to go. My husband’s brother and his wife came to the rescue. We moved into their home and kept up our search for a new place. Finally, we found a home that would work for us.

We signed the deal, and we were looking forward to moving into our own place. Then one week before our scheduled move, our lawyer phoned to say that we’d lost the house. Apparently, there was a second mortgage on the house, and the finance company had decided to buy the house and resell it themselves. I won’t describe the hysterics and the near mental breakdown that I experienced, but we eventually got the house, though our move was delayed by another 6 weeks.

It was four months from when we moved out of our “dream” home into our new house. It was one of the hardest things we ever had to go through, but it was the best thing that could have happened. Why? Our new house was smaller: we went down to one bathroom shared between six family members; the dining room became a third bedroom, and the garage was converted into a master bedroom. We lost the use of about a quarter of our house when it was converted to a rental unit, and our back yard was much, much smaller. But after four months of being without our own home, it was perfect. We were thrilled. The house seemed like a mansion to us. You would think that we’d feel ripped off and deprived, but we actually felt grateful. I’m positive that wouldn’t have been the reaction if we’d moved from one house directly into the other.

This experience taught me that “our perspective can determine our reality.” So it is in anything in life, including your finances. If you see only deprivation because you can’t buy everything you want, you will never be satisfied and will always be looking for happiness in future possessions instead of finding enjoyment in what you already have.

P.S. I found a book that captures my family’s experience in an enjoyable and colorful way: “It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale” (Paperback) by Margot Zemach.

Have you had a similar experience-something that changed your perspective and made what seemed to be a bad thing turn out alright?