I’ve lived in many cities in my life, but there’s only one I’ll likely never return to and that’s Anderson, SC.
In fact, the only thing more shocking than us moving back to NYC, is that we ever left and moved to Anderson in the first place!
After all, it was only three years ago that my life fell apart while living in NYC. It’s only been since 2014, that the words, I just don’t want this to be my life anymore, was the only response I could find whenever someone asked how they could be praying for me.
And I meant it — it was the only plausible way out of the mess that had become my life and my marriage, that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth would have enough pity on me to slip me a get out of jail free card under the table. Or better yet, allow me to exchange my life for a new one!
…And really, that’s what God ended up doing when He moved my family to South Carolina! It was as if God plucked us from our million mph life in NYC, and Hunger-Games-hovercraft-style dropped us off in the small, borderline pulseless, town of Anderson, South Carolina.
… a pulseless, but perfect place to rebuild a family.
And that’s exactly what God did while we lived here these last two years.
I’ll never forget the first time I walked through the house we’d end up buying, and how clearly God had spoken to me. The house was a mess. The door knobs were all jammed, there were 4 different types of flooring on the main level, and the fireplace was the loveliest of forest green hues. Not to mention, it smelled strange.
It would take a lot of work to get that house back into shape, and it wasn’t a task just anyone would want take on. And I’d be lying if I said there weren’t nights I stayed up questioning if it’d be worth the work, or if instead we should look at newer, less charming, but better smelling options.
But we kept coming back to it. It had unmistakable potential, so much untapped charm if only someone would come in, do the work, and dust off the cobwebs — And that’s exactly what God challenged us to believe, not just for the house on the corner of Savannah Drive, but for what He could do in our hearts and our marriage!
“I could have chosen a person with a less messy story, or a more steady marriage, but I keep coming back to you…” it was as if God said, “There’s untapped potential that’s waiting to be unveiled in your life; there’s unparalleled purpose I have planned for your marriage — And it’s not in spite of where you’ve been, but because of it! We just have some work to do.”
“Your love for each other is just hidden away and hard to get to,” our counselor would add early on in our marriage counseling, giving us the visual that our love was surrounded by what felt like an impenetrable wall of thorns.
“There’s beauty still there,” she challenged, “and just because you can’t get to it right now, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Like the house, we just had some work to do…
That’s what these last two years in South Carolina have been all about, peeling back the thorns in search of the love that on our darkest days we were certain couldn’t possibly still exist. Dusting off the cobwebs of our call to ministry and picking up the pieces of our broken vows, in order for God to unveil a beauty and a purpose we had almost given up believing could still be there.
The process has been costly and at times agonizing, both in updating the house and rebuilding our marriage. (True story: we found 30+ bats in the attic, and I’m pretty sure at one point I punched my husband after a heated sesh of marriage counseling.)
…But in the end, there our love & the most perfectly charming home was, hidden among the ruins and hues of forest green.
It’s a miracle, what God did here in Anderson, SC of all places. A miracle even my five-year old can’t deny.
At times I’ll catch her staring at me, and she’ll ask me, “Are you happy, Mama?” She sees a difference in me. Other times, she’ll scream out in disgust when she catches my husband and I exchanging a kiss in the kitchen, and we’ll smile at each other because we see the difference in us.
Looking back on our time in South Carolina, I stand amazed. Not because its been perfect (in fact, at times its been quite hurtful) but because God did what He promised.
The night before my husband left for NYC we got down on our knees beside the bed to pray.
And amid everything we needed God to do, we thanked Him through tears of gratitude for everything He’s already done.
We thanked God that in our daughter’s short life, she’s already sat front-row to a miracle watching the God she hears about in Sunday School, breathe life back into her mommy’s spirit and her parent’s marriage. So clearly noticing the astounding work He’s done, that she has to stop everything she’s doing and take note of His handiwork (even if it requires wailing in disgust!)
Gratitude washed over me, knowing all the times I pleaded with God for a new life that each of my tearful prayers reverberated to the heavens, and were heard by a loving Father who was already orchestrating a change of scenery, a revitalized marriage, and a bigger vision for my life than I ever dreamed possible.
Today I’m thankful God looks at the greatest messes we make of our lives as nothing more than a good ol’ home renovation project. And more than anything, I’m thankful my husband and I accepted the invitation to do the work, dust off the cobwebs, and fight like hell to rebuild our marriage, in spite of all the times we secretly questioned if a newer, less charming, but better smelling option of a spouse would be an easier fix.
And though there’s likely no reason to ever come back to Anderson, SC (other than to eat a ‘bird dog,’ or… well… nope, that’s about it.) We’ll certainly never be the same because of our time in Anderson, SC either.
And for that I’ll always be grateful.
// 52 weeks to write, 41 more to go. //