On Losing a House


Two years ago we lost our house. In the full sense of the word, lost. Some poor business decisions were made very long ago and the consequence of which was that nearly five years later, we weren’t able to keep the house we thought we would live in forever.

I’ve written about this a bit in the past with a different attitude. And I’ve talked about it. If you would have asked me about this a year ago or read anything I wrote about it you would hear me say things about down sizing, about our-treasures-aren’t-here-on-earth and even about its-not-the-end-of-the-world-to-lose-a-house.

All of that is still true.

But people around me were treating it like a death in the family and it just plain irritated me. It’s NOT a death, I wanted to scream. We are just short-selling our house. Frankly it made me more angry at the people I knew who worshipped the American Dream.

A house isn’t everything, you know. It’s really not a big deal.

But it was a very big deal.

Losing our house. Losing my house.

At the time people were losing their houses and careers around me in droves. Many families I knew were moving and many people had been laid off of work. We were lucky, I thought, to still have each other and to still be able to have a roof over our head. We were fortunate, I thought, that we weren’t losing our business and that we were still all healthy and whole.

And I still believe that.

But losing that house was harder on me that I ever let on to anyone. Even myself.

My heart and my marriage had been healed in that house. My life had changed in that house. My friends had met Jesus in that living room. I had seen miracles happen in that home.

My baby took her first steps on that floor and it was the place in my mind that when I closed my eyes, I saw our roots grow deep and strong. I’d poured wine and coffee and baked bread and cakes in that kitchen for people I loved. I’d played games on the living room floor with my toddlers and carried babies on hips as I made dinner.

So when we lost our house, we lost more than just a place to lock up when we left. We lost a sense of identity and I lost a sense of confidence. I lost the walls inside which I felt safe and loved. When I packed up my dishes in that home, I packed up a piece of myself as well.

I hate writing about this because I feel like I’m whining. Oh, poor Sarah, she lost her house. What about the people who don’t HAVE houses? What about people who lose parents or children or things that are far worse?

So, this is yet another thing that I’ve been scared to say, scared to even talk about and worried that I will come off wrong.

But in all honesty losing that damned piece of property made me question everything about myself: I am a stay-in-one-place-type-of-person. I’m solid. You know where to find me. I grow roots. I. live. here. where. I. belong.

But now I had no idea where I belonged.

So we found a place to live for the last two years but for the last two years I have wandered. I lived in a house with my family but I have felt untethered. I have felt not-myself.

My girls talk about it often. “I miss our old, old house” they say and they mean the one we lost. I usually put my finger to my temple and press for a moment. How do I explain to them that I left a part of myself there and if I could change the past I would? That the big adult things that have to do with banks and businesses sometimes are harder to work through than you could ever imagine. And that things don’t always turn out as we plan. How do I say this to a little girl who just misses her pale-yellow room with the stars on the ceiling?

So I say these things. That we had to move. That the bank wouldn’t let us stay. And then I feel like a bad mother, but then a normal one all the same. I remind us all of what is good in our lives and what we have to be thankful for (and I’m telling this to myself as much as I’m telling it to them).

And I finish by saying to them that trust-me-I-never-wanted-to-leave-either.

And now looking back, I know that’s when a big part of our more recent marriage issues began. I can’t explain it but places do have power I think. Even if it’s as simple as what a place symbolizes to you, I now know with experience that a place can be good for a person or very bad for a person too.

Our house loss has been both good and bad, but far more bad than I let on to people who asked. And it wasn’t because I was lying, but it was because I didn’t know how to tell myself the truth about it. I wanted to feel all the feelings I SHOULD be feeling rather than the ones that were truly rising up inside me.

The day we moved two years ago I drove away from that driveway when movers were still loading beds and dressers on to a truck. I live five miles from that house but I’ve never been back. It’s just too hard.

A few months ago, nearly two years after I drove away from that place, I finally said goodbye to it, as silly as it seems. Laying in bed one night, I forced myself to mentally walk through each room in that home, something I had refrained from doing in a very long time. I mentally walked through each room and I “looked” around, I said goodbye and I shut the door. I did that for each room until I was left at the front steps, and then I shut and locked the front door.

It hasn’t make any of this easier for me at all, but I did feel like I could move on.

We’ve moved yet again. I know. Again, it’s not what I’d ever planned for my family. Packing up my dishes almost killed me this time around. But it was different. I knew I was turning a page and it was a different kind of move. It was filled with a little bit of hope, a little bit of joy, {a whole lot of work} and a little bit of happiness.

And it’s been a very good thing. 

What about you? Are places important to you? Do you move a lot? Do you stay in the same place? Can you relate to my story at all?


  1. says

    We moved across the street a year and a half ago and I miss our old house. I think it’s made more difficult because we see it every day.

    It seems harder, also, when the decision is made for you in a sense. You didn’t get to outgrow the house and choose to move on to something else. You had to move and that is hard.

    I don’t know what it feels like to have to do a short sale and all of that, but I know I am attached to where we live and moving would be very very tough. I’m glad you’re facing that for what it is. It’s very valid!

    • Sarah Markley says

      thank you katherine! i’m so sorry about your loss too! It is harder when the decision is made for you i believe. thank you.

      • Nancy says

        Dear Sarah…
        Loss in many forms is not only difficult to accept but it makes it difficult to move on. Especially when the loss comes in waves at high tide.
        In the course of the last 11 years I lost my home, security, friends & family. Having to move 900 miles and several states away. I lost my husband to a job (it took him away weekly) and life partnering to raise our 3 kids. During this time my father (a man of faith and leadership to his family) died quickly of pancreatic cancer.
        I made the best of it. I ‘Nested’ a new home for my family. I forged ahead with hope and eventually peace, until I got the call.
        It was a state wide flood that led to evacuation on our street. Our now, new family (our neighbors) evacuated together. Several hours later one of those dear neighbors, in the wee hours of the morning, presented me with a phone and the knowledge that it was urgent I take this call. A fire marshal on the other end of the line informed me that our home, the one I took refuge in, through all my tears and fears, hope and slow harvest, had exploded. Yes.. Exploded!
        We lost everything that day. In the hours, days, weeks and year that unfolded thereafter, hope crept back in to our ashen life. We rebuilt with the support and love poured out on us from friends, family & strangers. It brought my husband back to a local job and we flourished together. Our new home has become a landmark for hope to many in the 5 years since that fateful day. Recollections of evacuation stories and the moment others set eyes on our home and neighborhood.
        Unfortunately, my loss didnt end there. Our oldest two children moved far away to pursue their dreams. A parents joy and heartbreak to let go. My mother died and in the wake of searing pain my, once loving relationship with my siblings took a surprising turn. They took the inheritance and shut me out of their lives.

        Getting now to the real reason I’m writing..
        I am faced with another pending loss. One that I’m digging my heals in with all the angst a child’s tantrum can muster, (well, at least in my heart). My husbands company, the one he devoted 27 years of faith and mission to, is closing.
        Our youngest child just graduated high school and was offered 2 years of free community college. She has struggled with ADD and her choice to attend college and live at home was more out of support and need for the familiar.
        My husband has received several job offers. All in other states. I’m distraught. There has been so much upheaval, loss, insecurity in the past 11 years that I’ve exchanged my youthful independent, high spirited excitement about life to one of fear, insecurity and yes.. stubbornness.

        I googled something I read in a book on perspective and it’s what brought me to your page on losing your house. It read…

        “Rebuild with a grateful heart. You may have lost your house but you did not lose your home.”

        I don’t know what to think or feel anymore. My hope for retiring on our patio with my husband & dear friends, the security that returning ‘Home’ can offer our children, and the embraceable community that has meant so much to us. How?? How do I let go again? For all the encouragement and advice I’ve offered to others, I am at a loss for myself. My perspective is blinded by fear.
        I’m asking that if you have words of wisdom, however related to your own experience, please share them with me.
        Nancy (from TN)

        Ps: Katherine I hope you don’t mind me tagging along on your comment. I could not figure out how to connect to post my own. Ps.. You are a brave & strong woman to live across the street from your former home. I don’t think under any circumstance that I could be as such. :)

        • Mindy says

          I am a parent that own my own home and helped my son buy his by putting my name my husbands name and my sons name on the house. It has been 1 and a half years now. My son is hard working but has had troubles holding a job down he has a baby and fiance. We have gave him thousands of dollars so he wouldn’t loss his house car and everything else. I have run out of money and I am misserable and telling him he has to sell the house before he losses it which would also affect us. He keeps putting it off and our relationship has been hurt. What should I do.

  2. says

    Moving is like dying…grief and pain and memories all tied up into packages along with the dishes, clothes, toys, and pictures. I don’t like moving AT ALL. But I’ve done it five times in the seven years I’ve known my husband. I don’t like moving at all (and three of the moves were overseas to a different place). But the one when I knew we were leaving, really leaving, I had a very difficult time tossing the dishes into a box in the hallway, and saying goodbye to the apartment where he’d loved me in sickness. I cried, I stressed, I wanted to be a nice person to be around, but I really wasn’t. I wanted to crawl in a hole and come out after all the work was done, after we were established again somewhere, after it was over. But in the end, we came out stronger for it and though we live in a tiny (somewhat inconvenient) place now I tell my husband “it is better to stay for now”. Trying to put down roots again, make new friends, love the community, and make our place a home. I like to stay in the same place, too. It is comforting to have the familiar.

    • Sarah Markley says

      i agree with everything you’ve said. thank you for being so honest. overseas – i can’t imagine!

  3. says

    Sarah — thank you for writing this. My family and I lost our house to foreclosure 13 years ago, this April.. And, I’ve always bemoaned the fact, because we had to downsize into something smaller that no longer fits our family. BUT, it wasn’t my dream house… it wasn’t a house I’d planned in living in forever. What killed me was that we’d been renovating it, and we hadn’t gotten to finish doing those renovations. Hubby lost his job when the place he worked at did a HUGE layoff (400 people!), and he just couldn’t secure something else right then. So, we had to go. The house was in the drywall & plywood stage, so it wasn’t comfy at the moment… but there was all that possibility of what it could be when finished that I had to walk away from.

    It was God who gave us the house we’re in now — the one we found when we had to move out of the other. This house stood empty, had 3 bedrooms (instead of the 2 at our other one), and was just around the corner from both my mom and my in-laws. And, we were still moving out of the old house as the bank was coming to put locks on the doors, so God provided JUST in the nick of time!

    But, you’re right … it was just a house. And, it wasn’t my dream house. If I’d lost that, I’d be devastated, too! I haven’t yet had the resources to have my dream house built. But you’ve reminded me that (1) it’s better to wait until we’re very settled financially, and (2) these houses are just houses. The more important stuff is the people who live there… and the memories that no one can take.

    Thanks, Sarah! (and, sorry that I’m always so wordy with my comments!)

    • says

      PS… Our family might be moving again, soon, if hubby gets a job. But this time, we’d be moving 2 provinces away! I’m scared to death, but trying to trust God in this. I’d be leaving all of my friends, my family, my church… I don’t know if I’m ready for that. But, God knows, and like I said, I’m trying to trust Him on this.

    • Sarah Markley says

      i’m so sorry MizB. But i love hearing stories about God intervening at the last moment. he seems to work that way sometimes. ah – trust.

  4. says

    I can so relate after having such a hard childhood the moment we first brought our house I finally felt as if I had a home. A place where I could raise my family so different to the way Ive been raised. To make my home full of love and laughter and everything children should know. So when illness and business decisions meant I lost that home for a long time I lost hope.

    • Sarah Markley says

      hmm. so true. places are important. i’m glad you have seemed to find your place – so important. thank you for your comment Sara!

  5. anna says

    I think what I find really interesting in what you say is this thing of trying to have feelings we think we ‘should’. I’d love you to write more about it. I definitely see it in myself. But I try more and more to take the real feelings to God. I’m in a very happy relationship but at first it was complicated as my boyfriend was sort of in a relationship with another girl. There was a voice that had told me for many years to get fancying someone under control. All that guard your heart, don’t let yourself fall in love with someone who’s not God’s choice for you and certainly don’t let yourself want to kiss them etc. My first impulse was to make myself get over it. But I didn’t run with that and felt what I felt and took that to God and I’m glad I did.

    • says

      Relationships are so important to the Relationship God. It was beautiful of you to share your feelings about this. I remember 38 years ago asking God if my husband was to be the ONE for me and the way He showed me was amazing. He likes us to ask and He likes to show the way. A yielded heart is an open heart.

    • Sarah Markley says

      such a good topic and such a quick sentence. i’d love to explore that a little more. let’s see what i can come up with. yeah – such tension between the should feelings and the real feelings. sigh.

  6. says

    I can totally relate. 7 years ago we lost our house through a series of unfortunate financial woes. Since then, we have literally moved every single year and I hate it! I long to be rooted somewhere….to have solid memories in a house.

  7. says

    So – I’m what they call a ‘third culture kid’ – Though I carry an American passport, I didn’t grow up in this country, I grew up way across the ocean. I’ve moved a lot. And that’s an understatement. We raised our kids overseas until the late nineties and moved to the United States but moved around here as well.. Our last move to Boston almost did me in. Actually – a few months before that we had moved from one house to another in Phoenix and that’s when all the grieving for all my moves surfaced. I’ve linked to the post I wrote about it through the contact info. I began to name all my grief – so much of it related to moves. Then a few months later we found ourselves moving to Boston and I thought I couldn’t do it. Not only that, we moved teenagers and that adds an extra complication to it. I found that as the grief came, so did the comfort. There was no human around to catch my tears, no flesh and blood to comfort; just God working through the sounds of a whirring fan and Psalms committed to memory so many years before.

    • says

      I know how you feel. My 3d step father was an itinerate farmer. We lived in whatever was available. I have lived in more than my share of shanties. I then joined the Army finding more moves. Each move is a grieving process. I wonder what we would see if we could look at these moves from the eyes of God? I have always said, “The harvest field is very big. I guess He has to move His workers around in it.” A dozen butterfly pollinates zero flowers. and still waters stagnate. Think back on the lives you’ve touched in those places and see what happens.

      • says

        I love what you wrote Chris. And I love the reminder to look at this from the eyes of God – one of the areas I think people like you and I can understand is the paradox of change vs. permanence. That we are created for permanence, not in this life, in Eternity, and so change is almost a gift, for without it, would we remember that we are created for so much more? I would love to hear more of your story of moving as a child from place to place, shanty to shanty.

    • Sarah Markley says

      oh Marilyn. i’m so sorry. thank you so so much for sharing your story here. i can’t imagine how hard this must be for you. i will try to find that post you wrote. thank you.

  8. Melissa says

    Sarah! I really understand what you’re feeling. We sold our home of 18 years and moved into a wonderful new home two years ago but my heart is still in that old house, my memories are still in that old house, my dreams are still in that old house. Christmas doesn’t seem like Christmas, parties seem empty even though the room has doubled, and I never really feel settled. Oh how I long for my old, small, remodeled house instead of this nice big house I live in now. I had no idea how much I’d cry as I packed the boxes and how devastated I’d be when we loaded the trucks and closed the doors for the very last time. I keep trying to convince myself that the new house is better and that I’ll eventually come to love it like I did the old house because it’s just a house after all, but a piece of my, a big piece of me, still remains in that house and suppose it always will. My children grew up in that home and now they are either gone or about to leave, and this house seems empty and lifeless so, my goal new is to make new memories, hopefully with grandchildren, in the new house so I can have new memories and new Christmases and new parties with children and family and love again.

  9. Sarah says

    This is beautiful and heartbreaking and needed to be said. Thank you for posting this.

    I haven’t lost a house (I’ve actually been in the process of buying my first home for the past four months, something that at various points has almost fallen apart and I feel like I’ve felt a fraction of what this grief must feel like) but my parents nearly did as a result of some likely worse business decisions. They didn’t, but the in between time was terrible, and I can’t explain why they didn’t while another close friend’s family did. There is also a ridiculous amount of shame and “don’t talk about it” associated with this type of process and loss, from what I have seen, especially in the church. Which is so wrong.

    Watching my family go almost go through that process, as well as losing my own job a year later, left me feeling the way you describe here. The circumstances were different but things were changed in me and left me with a lot of weird trust issues. It sounds like such a first world problem but it is a huge loss and real grief. Thank you for posting this. SO MANY people need to see this and so many people are suffering through it and ashamed to speak honestly about it.

  10. Deborah (Debbie) says

    You know what? This is real. What you write is REAL. God takes us through things or allows us to go through things, and yes, He really does have a good plan and purpose and its couched in His love and wisdom and no, He isn’t sleeping, or powerless, or unaware or insensitive (quite the opposite) but still…What you write is real. Our journey sometime REALLY hurts. And we struggle with that. And it is good to know that we aren’t alone in that and thank you for sharing your journey as God leads you to.

    • Sarah Markley says

      thank you Debbie! i’m thankful for my journey in that God (and all of you) are in it with me. thank you!

  11. Irish Triplets says

    That was a death for you. It was a death to a part of you.. You need to grieve it like any other loss. And that is OK. Very much OK! Don’t feel badly about feeling badly! When I left my parents house to go to college, I fell into a deep deep depression. I wasn’t ready to let go and grow up. It took so much time!

    • Sarah Markley says

      thank you for this. it was like a death of sorts and it’s been hard to allow myself to grieve it.

    • Sarah Markley says

      thank you chris. yes it was hard to say and it was one i needed to write “for me.”

      thank you also for commenting here on other’s comments. i love it when the community loves one another.

  12. says

    It is very sad to be without a home. When I moved to Portland after living my entire life in Southern California, I felt completely lost. I was told by a lot of people that “this is not your home,” “you’ll get used to it,” “home is wherever your husband is,” etc. I was so hurt. Have you read East of Eden? Many people are like Samuel’s wife, feeling that earth is just a stop on the way to Heaven, but I feel like Samuel, who said, “There’s a richness in my dust heap.” Land matters. Place matters. And I don’t think it’s an accident that God has promised to never again destroy the land He created, but to restore it when Christ returns. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sarah Markley says

      wow. i love that. there is a richness in my dust heap. i have (but never read) EofE and I want to now. thank you!

  13. Marina says

    25 years ago we moved into a house and I said to my husband “Promise me we’ll never move again!” It was the worst statement I ever made!! We barely lasted 6 months there. Living to hang to the house about cost me the marriage! The next 18 years we moved about every 3 years in a scarcely populated county in SW MO; I call it my 40 years in the wilderness. God refined us, in good & better ways. It was hard. I was miserable. But I believe the move away from the house, that area, God used to save our marriage and reshape our hearts! Now, 2 out of state moves in 3 years later, we are serving God through our house. It’s just a place. My friends shouldn’t be impressed or embarrassed with our dwelling place: I only pray God manifests Himself here!!

  14. Jean says

    We have gone through the exact thing! Over the past 4 yrs we have moved 3 times! Past decisions are still wrecking havoc, but like you said, how to talk about it when really we are still so blessed! Still living in limbo, but trying to remember that we are called to hold the things of this world loosely in our hands….

    • Sarah Markley says

      oh i’m so sorry jean. and limbo isn’t fun. ever. hoping and praying things begin to become more solid soon. thank you!

  15. says

    I am SO glad that you wrote about this, Sarah. Right now, we are struggling to embrace our home of 25 years. We recently went through a “modification” of our loan — it took 6 long months and didn’t really yield us much of anything {$60 less on our montly loan payment and not even a full % less}. Now, unfortunately, we’ve slipped into being a month behind {mostly due to fixing our cars, which we’ve been bandaid-ing for several years now}. A home IS an important place! When we see homes being devastated by floods and fire and whatnot, we always hear those interviewed say, “Well, it was just a house. We are lucky, we have our lives!” I feel for them. Because, truth is, they have every right to cry and be hurt over the loss of their home. It has nothing to do with it being a material item — but, let’s face it — a LOT of sacrifice and hard work went into having that home. Most people say the above because they fear that the “viewers” and “listeners” will think that they don’t have their priorities straight if they reveal how they truly feel. That it PAINS them to have lost their house and all their “things.” As a community and society of human beings we need to stop that kind of judging. It HURTS. We need to let people mourn their “things.” We need to recognize that it’s okay to feel the loss of “things.” For those “things” represent parts of our lives that WERE meaningful with the people we love.

  16. says

    How this spoke to me this morning. Three years ago we lost our home too, along with our business of 8 years. The downturn in the economy hit us hard and we reached a point where we could’n;t hold on any longer. It has been a painful journey but one that God has slowly been repairing the damage and healing the hurt. Grieving of dreams lost takes time and I still have moments that I am “homesick” for what was. Even three years later it is hard to write about but maybe one day God will have me share my story…thank you for sharing yours.

    • Sarah Markley says

      i’m sorry. i can totally relate to the idea of being “homesick” for the past. thank you for your openness. =)

  17. says

    My heart goes out to you. eYs, we need to grieve. We have moved 28 times in 42 years. The hardest one was the one forced on us… by fire. That was one of seven major life-changing events in nine months that led to my breakdown just a month after the fire. It took several years to get over the fire. It symbolized even more than a building, but a real part of our lives. Our son, DIL, and three oldest grandchildren lived with us the two years preceding and during the fire. It happened at 4:45 AM, and we were spared with about two minutes—we would have succumbed to smoke inhalation. Even fire department couldn’t get in for 15 minutes.

    That was 15 years ago, and sometimes it seems like yesterday. To look back now, I find that there are still some sadness and tenderness in my heart.

    • Sarah Markley says

      oh rich i’m so sorry. i remember when my grandparents lost their house in a fire. so much was lost in that fire – every photo all the heirlooms everything. thank you so much for this compassionate and transparent comment.

  18. says

    I have been so impressed by the boldness and honesty in your recent posts, Sarah. I sense freedom welling up in you as you put these pieces of yourself out there. What a gift to us!

  19. Heather says

    So powerful Sarah. The struggle for me is knowing how I should feel does not line up with my heart and thoughts. This post brings using my voice full circle. It’s speaking the truth on what’s in my heart. Moving for me is not fun. It’s not exciting or an adventure. It’s important that we own our true heart and let her be.

    • Sarah Markley says

      mmm. wow. i hadn’t thought about it like. that. thank you for bringing it full circle for me too!

  20. says

    Oh you are so right when you said that a place can be good or bad for a person! Especially women for our moods and our emotions are tied up in our surroundings. We can either flourish or wither.

    I’m so sorry you lost your house and that you are going through marriage issues as well. Believe me, we are all going through “stuff.” It’s a tough time for believers, I think. But it’s also a time where God can renew our strength and realign our priorities. Even if He has to do it while we are kicking and screaming. :)

  21. says

    I am a “stay put” kinda girl, so I get this. I cried for your loss as I read this post. And yes, there are worse things, but there are ALWAYS worse things. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be real about your sadness.

    Thanks for this post!

  22. says

    Sarah, I know SO MUCH of what you mean. When we left Turkey a few years ago, we didn’t know we were leaving for good when we locked our front door. We thought we’d be back in a month. But I never returned, so I never got to say goodbye, and neither did our kids. It was where I brought home Reed, where I wrote my first book, where we LIVED in TURKEY. To this day, it’s where we’ve lived the longest.

    I did what you did… I mentally walked through each of our rooms, and I said goodbye. And it was so, so healing. I let myself cry, I told myself it was a real thing to be sad about (yes, it’s just a house, but goodness—it’s a HOUSE), and that while I knew better things were ahead, God understood my sadness. Jesus never had a home on earth, and I felt that way, too. It was comforting.

    I’m over that house now, but I still mourn that loss a little. It’s a tricky business, trying to figure out where you belong here on earth. It’s so short in light of eternity, but it still matters….

    Thank you for sharing these words today.

  23. Diane taylor says

    Oh Sarah, what a heartfelt topic. I remember when you had to move (wow i cant believe I have been reading your blog that long….) and it tugged at my heart strings.. I did not lose a home but when my husband lost his job, many extras were stripped from our day to day life. We both felt like such failures, even tho we had the same roof over our heads. We had each other, we had family and friends, and we were a family. If i had only known what was to come……I am grateful for God’s love and his guidance in my life. I will keep your family in my prayers, Sarah. XXXXOOOO

  24. says

    We’ve been married for almost 6 years and we’ve been renters the whole time. A year here for my husband to finish his undergrad. Four years there to complete seminary. I didn’t think I’d get attached to either place because it was temporary and not really “ours.” But this house we currently rent is where my babies have grown into kids. And we’re on the brink of moving, which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. And sometimes I get attached too late and wish I’d done things differently. I wish I’d gotten to know more neighbors. I wish I’d become more invested in this community. I wish, I wish … and yet I’ve learned and maybe in the next house, I’ll do things different and better. Thanks so much for sharing! And just because other people don’t have houses, doesn’t mean you can’t feel bad about losing yours. Feelings are valid no matter what.

  25. Cassie says

    THANK YOU for writing this! We lost our home 2 years ago July in foreclosure and I am still not over it. I have been so unsettled since we’ve been in the house we are renting. It’s a nice home in a nice neighborhood and I have felt guilty for two years that I don’t feel happy here. Your blog opened up my eyes to what I’ve been feeling all this time. I’m grieving the loss. I tried convincing myself that I was ready to walk away, put it all behind me, because financially, it was such a burden for us after several reductions in income over two years. But in all reality, it still hurts. My husband and I had the house built and we chose everything that went into it from wiring to carpet to fixtures to paint. We would drive out to the site every Sunday after church and walk through, to see what had been done that week. It was exciting, it was a plan coming together, a project that we had a hand in completing, it was home. As I read your blog, I sat and cried when I realized everything I’ve been feeling for the past two years. I’ve never been able to shut the door and leave it behind. I DID drive past it, all the time and it hurt so deep to realize that I could not walk through that front door, ever again, as the owner. I realized I need to be able to heal from the hurt, I need to move on and let go, The fall out from the foreclosure has been brutal to say the least, emotionally, physically & spiritually for me. I am struggling with depression, I am lethargic in soul, spirit and body, and my motivation to rise above is gone. It’s really not about the material things, it’s really not about the “house” itself but everything that happened to get us there and the life we lived while we occupied it. It’s not the “things” it’s the “somethings”, the moments, the laughter, the love, the life that was lived within the walls. I get it, I really do, and it’s nice to know that someone else gets it to.

    • Sarah says

      I’m not the original poster (though we share a first name) but I came back here because I’m not sure why. I just really, really like this blog post, because it touches on such a deep pain that is so rarely discussed, particularly in the church. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your home. It is perfectly normal and expected to grieve its loss, particularly when you had such a role in creating it. It is not selfish, materialistic, or entitled to grieve those things. Many people get it, but so many are afraid to speak up about it. I hope you can find others who can help to bear your grief.

  26. says

    thank you for so courageously voicing the depth of this loss (and the fear that goes with it)… makes me feel less alone in how similarly i’ve felt.

    i love you, sarah. no matter where you are.

  27. Angie says

    Thank you for sharing this post! I can SO relate! My family and I just moved in December, not by choice. I lost my job in 2009 due to downsizing of a small firm that I worked for. With the job loss went 60% of our household income. A couple months prior to the job loss, I was diagnosed with an incurable bladder disease, and underwent a procedure for that. After the job loss I experienced even more health problems, which resulted in lots of doctor/hospital/pharmacy bills.
    I searched diligently for a new job, but at the time there were very few jobs to apply for. My husband and I have always planned and saved for a rainy day, but we were not planned for the monsoon that we’ve experienced. We had no choice but to tap into that savings to keep the house payment, car payment and medical bills paid. Once the money ran out, we BEGGED our mortgage company to work with us. We applied for a loan modification 4 times and each time we were denied. They finally said “I’m sorry, but you don’t make enough money for our assistance.” Really??? I replied that “if I made enough money I wouldn’t need your ____ assistance!” Because the housing market was so horrible at the time and our house was no longer worth what we owed on it, we were forced into bankruptcy and eventually foreclosre (tried short selling but to no avail).
    The foreclosure sale took place in early December, 2012. Moving was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I wept for hours, days over the loss, and I’m not over it yet. This was our dream home. We purchased the property (almost 6 beautiful wooded acres) and chose our house plan. We built the plan from the ground up and it was exactly what we wanted, complete with vaulted and tray ceilings, a fireplace, jacuzzi tub, 2 car garage, office/study, a large deck, everything. So losing this house we thought we’d live in forever was like a death to me and I’m still grieving.
    I tried to convince myself that it’s ok… the most important thing is that we are all together and we’re healthy. I tried to pretend this was all according to God’s plan and in the end everything will be better. But in reality nothing is better yet. I hate the house we are renting. My (teenage) daughter hates the house we are renting. I hate that she hates it and I feel like a failure as a mother, and as a person. My husband is the only one that is ok with where we are living, and I think only because the nightmare of losing the house is over, and we are out of it. It was hard for him to drive up in the driveway toward the end knowing we weren’t going to be there much longer.
    But a part of me seemingly died with the loss of the house. I put on a good front, but I’m not good inside. Sure we have memories. And we have plans to build again. And I realize that it is only a material possession and our focus should be on eternal treasures anyway. But those things don’t comfort me. They don’t take away the pain.
    I don’t understand. I am angry, I’m bitter. I question why that happened to us… we’ve always been in church, we’ve always tithed, we’ve always helped others in need. Even in our lowest time, we still helped others. So why did this happen to us. I can’t seem to find the answer yet.
    I’ve been told a thousand times “It’s all part of God’s plan.” And maybe it is… after all, after 3 1/2 years of searching for a job, sending in 100s of resumes and applications, the week of the foreclosure sale I was offered 2 positions and am now back to work full time making more money than when I lost my job! But, I’m still having a hard time seeing His plan at this moment. And, even though I’m trying to pick up the pieces and move forward, I’m still broken. I’m still grieving. And the pieces aren’t fitting together.

    • Azadi says

      Angie….I feel as you do and have realized that having faith is the hardest work we ever do. To have faith in HIS timing is so very difficult. I will not go into my story…but have watched the food in my pantry to go zero as my old husband and I struggle to keep going in this awful economy…no one wants to hire the old. I will stay pay tithe…..I will still keep trying to have faith…..but it is exceedingly difficult. I hope in the end of all this sorrow…..God will dry all of our tears and heal our deep and furrowed wounds

  28. says

    We moved a lot, but only one move really hurt me. It was the move from our house in Maine, an imperfect house we rebuilt with our own hands. I loved that house. I had my babies while living in that house and I planned to grow old and die in that house. We sold it and moved far away so my husband could attend seminary and become a pastor.

    We’ve moved several times since then and none of those moves bothered me. I was unattached, but oddly enough, I still grieve for that crooked old house in Maine.

    In some ways I hate that. I hate that I could’ve been so connected to wood and sheetrock, but it was more than just a house or even a home for me. It solidified my marriage and had a part in who I am today. Crazy? I know. It is.

    I appreciate that you wrote this post. That you faced the truth and shared it.

  29. Nikki B says

    Oh Sarah! You have once again written what my heart has felt but I just couldn’t peg it until I read your words. We, too, moved a little over three years ago out of our forever house so that we could be closer to my husband’s job. I haven’t felt right since we left UNTIL we moved again last weekend into another “forever” house that is very similar to our other “forever” house. I instantly felt at home. My spirit lightened. I can’t explain it and I’m not super materialistic, but there’s just something about knowing when you’re home. Hang in there! Praying you feel at home once again. <3

  30. says

    i recall when you moved out of your house- reading about it. honestly, i ached for you. when we moved out of our home in bass lake and in with michael’s parents (over 10yrs ago) to heal our financial problems, i mourned for 3 years for the sense of “home” i lost. i felt like a wanderer for longer than i wanted to. we moved into this home 1 1/2 years ago. i tell myself it will take time and memories before this place will feel like home. i also remind myself, that this isn’t meant to be my home anyway. i anticipate when we finally make it home with the LORD, we’ll feel more at home there than ever. i look forward to that. i have to.

    miss you.

  31. says

    So many things we can be scared to say — scared to think. Especially anything involving loss and grief, because it begs the question, Where is your God? We feel like God’s credibility, our credibility as Christians, rests on our having the right response, the correct answers, or at the very least, a reasonable explanation. I wrestled with this in a recent post: http://www.inkyjazz.com/god-isnt-worried-about-his-reputation/

    Celebrating and joining you in your steps to freedom, Sarah..

  32. says

    We sold our home in a short sale just shy of two years ago…it was so frustrating…I still carry the weight of the words “irresponsible,” “judgment,” and “debtor.” I still feel this compulsion to explain myself when it comes up with people…even without the emotional attachment you’ve described. The experience was so draining to check every word of every document, to make sure what was being promised over the phone was the deal we were signing. We missed only the very last month’s payment while we had long since moved out but were waiting on the paperwork to close with buyers we’d had for months. The freedom of not owing a bank for a house we could never go back to is what helps calm me when I walk down that memory’s lane. I can honestly look at our five years of memories prior to the sale with true joy. I hope that is where your memories go from here. http://skipperclan.com/2011/04/20/freedom/

  33. Kimberly says

    Thank you so much for sharing. Lost my home when my husband’s advertising company lost 85% of its clientele. So many people would tell me “oh it’s JUST a house, God will provide another one” we’ll I didn’t want another one, that was the home my babies finally had a stable home after moving 8 times. That was the home where my grand daughter learned to crawl & walk. That was the home I shared with my best friend, lover & husband, before he decided his ego needed to be filled with other women. That was the start of the end of my marriage. That was when my whole world turned upside down

  34. says

    We lost our house (as you know, Sarah) to a conman while we lived in France, and he could easily steal our house in the States. Forced to foreclose. I live less than five miles from that house, and have only been able to drive by once. And then, with tears and this sick feeling in my stomach. I so get it.

  35. Sunny says

    Oh Sarah. Your life continuously mirrors mine time after time. We lost our house in 2002. Our kids were in high school and grown up now but still talk about having to move away from their home. It is only 2-3 miles from where we live now, but I have not driven by it ONCE. I take side roads to avoid going by it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, leaving that house.

    We live in a very nice place now, and I know I am where God wants me to be. But there will never be another place like that one. One of these days I’d like to go by and see it but 12 years have passed and I still can’t do it. But I probably need to just to have some kind of closure.

  36. says

    I can totally relate. We lost our house also and had to move in with family for a year. It was the hardest time of my life.
    Now we have a house again and Im grateful. But i never forget that terrible time. We had thrown things away just because of lack of room to store it. We lost all we had build on; our new kitchen, our car, our company. And it even felt like we lost our identity too.

  37. Amanda says

    Wow! Thank you so much for this post! I have moved more than my fair share, from across the street, to across the country several times…. a total of 27 times in 33 yrs! I feel like no place is really home, I have no “roots”. I always laugh when people ask “Whats your hometown?”….. “Ummm, I don’t really have one!” I say! I used to hate moving, but I now see it differently. With every move, I have met new people, experienced different things that I wouldn’t have if I stayed in one place, seen so much of the country, that most people don’t get to. I’ve realized that this world… it’s not my “home” anyway! I can fit my entire life into 7 boxes, not including furniture. And, I am ok with that! Less “Stuff” because when it really comes down to it, that isn’t what is important anyway…. it is the relationships, the people you have in your life…. whether for a long time or just for a season!

  38. Nan says

    Thank you so much for this post. I lost my first home 11 years ago, during a very painful divorce and bankruptcy. I worked hard to make a new life for my children and myself and was blessed with a new beginning in a different house. 4 years after moving into that house, my life crumbled with the loss of my job. I fell into a deep depression, which I now see but didn’t then. I had made that job who I was, and the loss of it meant I lost myself. I subsequently lost this second home. We did find an apartment to move into, we’ve now been here for 4 years. I have no one to blame but my own mistakes. What I discover almost daily is the shame that I carry for my financial missteps. My boys too, talk about how much they loved our first house and then again our second house. Now they don’t even have a yard. I relate to having to say good bye to the house in my heart. For me I have to forgive myself and take off the shame that Satan tries so hard to pull me down with. I am a new creation in Christ! Home is where the heart is, so I guess this is all temporary anyway, we have a mansion waiting, one that can never be taken away!

  39. says

    When I was a young teenager, we lost our house. And your post here gave me insight into my parents’ feelings, especially my mother’s, that I hadn’t ever explored before. Thank you for sharing this.

  40. says

    Sarah, we too lost our house a year ago, and it’s been a roller coaster of emotions to say the least. I’m just entering the interwebs of the writing world – and wish I could write about it, but can’t yet, for a variety of reasons – but wanted to say that I appreciate your truth and your honesty. And I know what you’re going through. Losing a house is HARD. There are no two ways around it. Keep speaking truth!

  41. says

    My family is right now on the other side of this — attempting to purchase a short sale. As often and my wife and pray about our situation, we also pray for the family of five who are losing a house. Your point that places matter, and that places can be good for a person, or vice versa, is one that needs to be made more often. We are not disembodied spirits. Reading Wendell Berry has opened my eyes to the importance of physical places.

  42. Robin in New Jersey says

    I got a notice from the bank today that says we do not qualify for a loan modification because my husband is unemployed and not collecting unemployment and I only work parttime. They want us to do a short sale so they don’t have to foreclose. We have been here 14 years and I am so sad and afraid. Where will we go? How will we live?

    I understand everything you are saying here.

  43. says

    my parents still live in the house they had when i was born 30+ years ago. its so settling to me to have my past in one place. yet my husband and i are on our 3 house (1 rental, 2 purchased) in less than 5 years of marriage. I try to stay positive about it, knowing this is the lot I chose in life when marrying a real estate agent, but sometimes i wish we could just stay put.

    i swear God’s used the mice in our house to teach me lessons. whenever i would get overwhelmed and think my husband wasn’t pulling his weight, we’d have mouse issues he’d have to deal with – and i’d thank God for my man taking care of me. after almost a year of nothing – we found a dead mouse last night. the day before our potential buyers are doing a home inspection? I feel as if its God’s way of telling me its time to let go and move on. (and be thankful Jay found it and not the inspector!!)

  44. says

    I have moved a lot, a lot! I don’t have a steady family background so I moved out when I was around 17. Because nothing was steady, especially in the inside, I kept moving around. Always for good reasons but still. Then I finally bought a house in 2011, it was near where I was born and grew up. It was healing and completing. I renovated my house. And then… I met my husband not even a year later and it meant giving it all up and moving… across the ocean this time. In a way it was easy to do, but I still have trouble thinking of the little house I rebuild and loved. Maybe I should do what you did… go there in my mind consciously. It was a good place, I left it for the most beautiful reason. It’s wasn’t just a house, it became home for the first time in my life.

  45. says

    There are some intriguing points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Fantastic write-up , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner at the same time

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  46. says

    I moved to the other side of the country 7 years ago and since then I’ve moved a lot, but I have never since “felt” at home. Whenever my dreams take place in a house, it’ll be that house that I dream of. I only lived there 8 years, but it’s the longest I’ve lived in one place. I wonder though, maybe I’ll find “home” again when I have a family of my own and we decide on a place to settle. I think there is a measure healthy security that comes from a stable, familiar place to retire to every day…that you’ve been able to invest in and fashion to your taste and needs.

  47. Katie says

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. I’m currently sitting in my dream home with $15 in my checking account, and two mortgages due next week with no idea how we will pay. Three years ago my husbands business was doing amazing! So we decided to build our dream home, and the minute we moved in his business went down the tubes. We thought we would be ok seeing that our mortgage was small as we put a lot of our own money into building the house. A year later we decided to take out a home equity loan to help us get back on our feet, well we never did and now we have an additional payment to make each month. We have called a Realtor and we are listing the house for sale next week. I honestly can say its not the walls, the size, or the niceness of the house we will miss it the memories we made, and our intentions of living here forever. We brought our son home from the hospital to this house where I rocked him to sleep, and we played on the floors. For a long time we knew we couldn’t stay here but we had hoped a miracle would happen, unfortunately time has run out for a miracle. I know we will be ok, it’s just not something anyone wants to go through. At times I feel guilty for being upset as there are so many people in the world who have so much less than we do. Again I thank you for sharing your story, as now I feel a little less alone.

  48. Lee says

    Relate? oh, I can relate. Not just relate – I am living it. My sister-in-law told me that I would need time to mourn the loss of my home. Others gave me that tired line, “It’s JUST A HOUSE” or “it’s only four walls”. Our stories sound familiar as it was lost due to “poor financial decisions”. They were not on my part! but as a result the home that I had worked so hard to create as a retirement property, a place where my grandchildren could come and enjoy spending time, and our total investment, was gone. It was sold under unethical real estate practices and the people who bought it from us were shady and dishonest. It was actually torn away from me. Yes of course I was emotionally invested and attached to it. Apparently my husband wasn’t. I know forgiving is the right thing to do (supposedly) but I have already told him that I will never forgive what he has done to cause the loss of this magnificent property where wildlife flourished — my sanctuary. It was the home we deserved after working and saving so hard. It was priceless and precious to me but to him it was just a burden to get rid of and move on. The loss of this home has changed me, and my life, forever. There is no longer any love in my marriage because of all this — it is a sad hurdle I will never get over. Yes, I can hear voices saying “oh just get over it and move on!” but it is not that easy. I cannot bear to even look at pictures of it. I think of it every day, especially in the mornings when I hear the birds waking up our world. Images of it come to me in my dreams and I am haunted by it. Where I live now is cold, unfriendly and basically a box in a building. It is not, nor will it ever be, a “home” – no matter how much effort I put into decorating what little space I now have. My feeling is that we will never, ever own a property like that ever again. It’s not just the loss of the home but a loss of many, many other things. We are now shunned even by family members who are better off than we are and you might even run into me at the dollar store. I know it sounds materialistic but it is a long way from Chanel to Wal-Mart. This loss has brought my self-esteem and confidence to a point below zero. One day when I was purchasing a Vogue magazine my mother said to me “why would you bother buying a magazine that shows you things that you can’t buy anymore?” ((Reality check)) Another family member who experienced the loss of one, but two homes of her own, had no sympathy whatsoever; it was as if she was saying, “it happened to me and I got over it, so can you”. She is not me. My future is now non-existent and unstable. I am just not strong enough to bear this loss and may need some professional help in order to handle the anger, bitterness, and resentment I am feeling. So to all of you who have been here, or are here, I completely understand. I am traumatized and probably will remain so for the rest of my life.

  49. jmramella says

    Hi Sarah,

    I think the Lord had me find your blog to encourage me and let me know that my loosing not only our house, our business, moving away from my family and starting over at 51 with nothing is a bigger deal than you think! I mourned when I leaved and thought that it was out of my system. Them we were able to buy a small house, and it was a miracle and blessing we even had enough money for that, so while I am thankful for that, I still mourn. I left the home we built and the house I thought we would raise our family in. We have two adopted little girls from China. My sister, who is my best friend, lived and built the home right behind me and my parents moved their also. When we lost the business, the house went with it. I didn’t want to live anywhere else beside behind my sister, so if I couldn’t stay there, we went back to my husbands famiy, home church, and shorter commute. an hour away. There have been such blessings in it. The house was a mess, and our friends from church came and re did the whole place for us. Its tiny though and that’s been harder than anyone who says it’s easy really tells you!!! As a believer, I struggle that i am grieving worldly things, but it was so much more than that. It was our hopes and dream. Our life has not turned out the way we planned. I also played up the downsizing, and the same things you did! But then when we were here 6 months the heavy tears, horrible sadness hit me. It’s been a year and a half, so I am amost to the 1 year mark of my grieving. It’s hard!!! It wasn’t until I went to a counselor that they told me i suffered a loss, and I had to grieve it. So can you give me any encouragment? Did you cry alot?? Were you sad? Did you get depressed?



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