Lately I’ve been feeling restless. I’ve been done with school for over four years, and nothing much has changed in that time period.
I am in the same position at work.
I am still very single.
I still live with my parents.
I still feel very stuck…
Because I am the type of person who over-thinks EVERYTHING, I’ve been thinking a lot about living at home. When I was 21 and living at home, it was great. When I was 24 and still living with mom and dad, it was pushing it. Now that I’m 26, I feel like a classic case of “failure to launch”, which, I might add, is very difficult for an idealistic perfectionist such as myself. The Lord is as gracious as always, though, and He has been good at showing me over and over in very clear ways that I am exactly where He wants me. I’ve had lease papers signed and ready to go when my would-be roommate backed out, leaving me to deal with the angry realtor who vouched for us and had the landlord hold the property as we ironed out a few details. I’ve been met with mortgage lenders and realtors in the process of purchasing a house, only to be overcome with the knowledge that it was NOT what the Lord wanted for me at the time. Over and over, in so many ways, God has shown me I am to be living at home… even as a 26 year old woman. Knowing I am exactly where I’m meant to be doesn’t mean it’s necessarily sunshine and rainbows. My mulling and stewing over the past few months has taught me this: living at home is a sacrifice, but it is also a blessing.
- I am confined to a 100 square feet bedroom. This is fine when you’re a child, but I am a grown woman with documents to be filed files, books, crafting supplies, exercise equipment, etc. Also, I have a life! I want to have people over, sit over a cup of coffee and chat, host guests for the weekend, etc. This is all difficult, if not impossible, when your life is contained to a bedroom.
- 2. I must put my dreams of being a homemaker on hold. All my life, that’s all I’ve really wanted to do. What that looks like right now is wanting my own kitchen where I can cook whenever I want, not have to deal with other people’s dirty dishes, and not be bothered with the pantry and cupboards not being organized how I would like them. It means wanting the ability to decorate and arrange furniture to my style, not my mom’s. It means hosting parties, out of town guests, and Bible studies. All of which I am not able to do, because this home is not my own.
- I have to deal with the judgmental comments and glances from others, and the belittling feelings which accompany them. Honestly, this is probably the worst thing about living at home. Many people look at me and think I’ve got it made it the shade living off mommy and daddy. They do not see the sacrifice and choose to lash out. I have been told on more than one occasion that I “have no bills” since I live at home, even though I am financially independent from my parents. They don’t see that rent in my area is 50% of my income. They don’t see that my parents had to use all their savings to keep the family afloat during periods of unemployment, leaving me to pay for college on my own. They don’t see my living expenses, or the fact that I have medical conditions which require me to eat in a way which is not entirely cheap, and take medication and supplements I must pay for, on top of the co-pays for visits to specialists a few times a year. They don’t know I have allergies to all the cheap soaps, laundry detergents, and cosmetic products. They speak from ignorance, yet their words still sting. In the past, comments I’ve made about grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking have been met with shock from people who assumed my mom still did all my shopping for me, cooked my meals, and packed my lunches. I have been made to feel like a failure since I obviously can’t get my life together enough to move out of mommy and daddy’s house and establish my own life. I have been admonished by well meaning Christians who must think I live with my parents out of a spirit of laziness and attachment to adolescence, rather than the Lord’s direction and provision.
As with most things, however, the sacrifice is only a part. Living at home also comes with great blessings.
- I am able to practice selflessness on a daily basis. One of my fears about remaining single has always been that I would become very self-centered. We can all probably think of people in our lives who never married, and as a result, are very selfish. They never had to put the needs of someone else over their own. Their life, home, schedule, opinion, wants, emotions, etc. has always been the priority. Living at home is a good deterrent for this. I must continually consider the fact that this house does not belong to me. What I do, when I come and go, what I leave laying about the house, and much more all have an impact on more than just myself. My life issues aren’t the only one that matters. Living at home means I hear about problems going on with my dad at work. It means washing the dishes or folding laundry for my mom to lighten her load. It means cooking 50 pounds of pasta, loading it in roasters, and carting it to the dinner theater her students are performing for their spring play and helping plate the food and serve the hundred guests. It means watching what someone else wants to watch on TV and being genuinely interested in the WWII documentary you never would have chosen to watch in a million years. All these things are ways to practice dying to self every day, and that is a gracious provision of the Lord.
- My parents are gracious and accommodating. The Lord blessed me with two of the most amazing people in the world as my mom and dad. They see the struggle and sacrifice of living at home. They see how my heart longs for a home to call my own. They see the way the Lord has given me a heart for hospitality. They notice how cramped that 100 square feet has become. In all these ways, these gems of people have chosen to love me and sacrifice themselves for me. I have inherited a “craft closet” in the guest room where I can keep my sewing machine, fabric, yarn, ribbon, etc. I am able to host a Bible study every Thursday in the basement family room. A few times a year, they graciously go somewhere for the day or overnight so my middle school small group can come over. These things may seem small to some, but they bless my heart so deeply. My parents keep showing me what sacrificial love looks like by giving these things up for me.
- I am able to bless others financially. It is true that living at home is cheaper than having an apartment by myself. This does not mean, however, that my money is hoarded. With living at home comes financial flexibility. I am able to sponsor a child who lives in India, helping to send her to school and teach her about Jesus. I am able to support missionaries who are proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to the dark, postmodern world of France. I am able to take the 7th grade girls in my small group out to coffee, lunch, or dinner, or even host sleepovers. I am able to take my cousins out for coffee and buy them whatever they want. I can throw baby showers (or at least try to) and pay for the decorations, food, etc. I know that moving out on my own would put an end to all these things. My budget would be very tight with no room for these extras. That day may come, but for now I’m thankful I am able to bless people in this way.
- I have a home to come home to every night. I am a homebody through and through. I am an introvert, but I don’t always love being alone. I love being able to come home to someone who loves me each day. I love being in a home where there is love, laughter, and learning together. I love being able to decompress from my day and having Godly wisdom spoken to me as I recount situations I encountered at work or church. I love having someone notice if I made it home safely at night, or bringing me medicine when I’m sick. These things are such a core part of who I am. I am blessed that even as a single woman, I am not alone in this world, but am surrounded by people who love me.
Along these lines, living at home means my living place is constant. I HATE moving. Packing up my life into boxes and destroying my safe haven in this world goes against the very fiber of my being. Financially, I can’t really afford to live by myself. Ideally, I would need a roommate. Throughout the past several years, I have attempted to get an apartment with multiple different people. In retrospect, each one of those roommates would have lasted a year at most, leaving me with the task of moving again and again each year. The Lord has been so gracious in protecting me from that. He knows as well as I do how that would have been my undoing. He sees my end from the beginning and leads me beside the still waters.
So now what?
I am currently looking to go back to school full-time to get my RN licensure. While I am really excited about this opportunity, I know it probably means living at home for another two years. This fills me with disappointment and anxiety. If people think it’s bad for a 26 year old to be a home, what in the world will they think when I’m 28? I know I can’t let the thoughts and opinions of other people to cloud my judgment and prevent me from seeing all the blessings I have been given. I cannot allow vanity and pride to cause me to disobey the clear instruction of God in my life. The Lord has been faithful to give me grace to continue on this road He set before me. I know He will continue to provide the grace, strength, joy, and blessing to keep following the path He. I do not need to see ten steps ahead, only one. He will provide all I need to take each step as it comes. I need only trust His plan, and rejoice in the tender love of my blessed Redeemer.