I haven’t had much to say around here lately. I’d like to claim it’s because I’ve been otherwise occupied, but it would be a lie. Actually, maybe it wouldn’t. I have been fully occupied by bitterness.
I’ll start at the beginning. Don’t worry, I’ll edit so it doesn’t get too long.
We moved about 3 1/2 months ago into a house just a town over from the Walton’s Mountain home. The house wasn’t aesthetically pleasing but it was on a well, could be heated by wood and sat on 15 acres. This added up to a huge savings in utility expense and a great outdoor space for our active kiddos.
Only we quickly learned the well water was a wreck. It stunk (let me be clear, it still stinks!!), tasted horrible and discolored our belongings. It was a dream come true. I know, I know. Sarcasm-liness is not next to godliness. It’s something I’ve been begging the Lord to help me work on.
We asked the landlord if something might be done about the water situation. We were (and still are) having to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes. And apparently our children are a very rare, pale and skinny breed of water buffalo. Who knew? The expense was adding up.
The landlord came by with a sandwich baggie and collected a sample from the sink. She assured me while she was there, that she believed the water to be just fine and that all it likely needed was bleach poured into the well. This is called a shock. Believe me, I was shocked.
After two weeks and no word on the sample, we called and asked about it. She wouldn’t disclose the findings but instructed that we needed to shock the well. We have our flaws but we’re generally obedient and so we did.
The stink changed to a different kind of stink and our belongings weren’t being as badly discolored. However, our kids started getting a rash when exposed to the water for more than a few minutes. This, by the way, is an excellent excuse for a child looking to get out of doing kitchen duty or looking to avoid bathing. We have children of both kinds.
However, being slow to connect the dots between the bleach and the rashes, we shocked the well again two weeks later after being instructed to do so, since the effects of the first had worn off. I believe I failed to mention that each shock process leaves us without water for 24 hours or more. I don’t have to tell you how much fun that is with 9 people living here.
Anyway, after the second time we finally made the connection to the bleach being added to the well causing the rashes. I’m not even going to lie…I was pretty much livid. I’d struggled through 3 months of dealing with gross water that we weren’t warned about and now this?
Skipping over some details that would bring no glory to God, I’ll just say we received a very unfavorable response to our written request for something to be done about the undisclosed water situation or for our rent to be adjusted to make provision for the additional expense and hardship of dealing with it . Things swiftly spun out of control as the landlord became more volatile by the day and within little more than a week we were informed we were being evicted
We were being evicted for asking for clean, usable water in our rental house. Unbelievable.
After our attempts to talk through our differences was met with flat denial, we finally contracted legal counsel in order to protect ourselves from an unjust lawsuit. That meeting was on Monday of this week. We’d been beaten (figuratively speaking), badgered, bullied and threatened. We were exhausted, stressed and angry.
Did I mention we were angry? Because we were. But that brings me to this morning.
I woke around 4 am, just before my husband had to leave for his shift at the station. We’d been dealt another blow last night and we’d had enough. After talking briefly and saying goodbye, I sat down to my Bible study. Comfortable with the knowledge that in just a few hours we were contacting our attorney to let her know we would not be caving to the landlord’s demands and that we’d be filing a countersuit if she chose to pursue it, I opened my Bible.
As God would have it, though it wasn’t in the study plan for today, I read 1 Peter 3:9.
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. (KJV)
I began to waver. Was it possible we were wrong?
We weren’t wrong about the water, of that I was certain. Whether it was considered a health hazard or not, it was not clean or usable and that is a basic right of a tenant. At the very least we had the right to be warned of those conditions before being bound by a lease. What could we be wrong about?
Determined to assure myself of our rightness, I dared to type into the google search bar the following: is it ever right for a Christian to sue?
And up popped good ol’ John Piper with a video, not just on lawsuits, but offering an example of people who had bought a house with undisclosed issues. I’m not even terribly familiar with Piper but I nearly cried watching the video because it was so very much like God was speaking directly to me. Wait a minute, let me rephrase that. God was speaking to me as He lead my morning study into areas I hadn’t intended. And I felt Him asking, “Why aren’t you willing to be wronged?”
My husband called when he reached work and we talked about it. He agreed that we needed to proceed as Christ would have us rather than as our emotions were beginning to lead.
We will not be having this go through the courts. We will pack our belongings and move all 9 plus 1 of us out of here. We will leave the house in excellent, better than we found it condition. We won’t stand and fight for a home that can’t meet our needs anyway. We surrender. We’re over here waving the white flag. Not because we’re weak but because He is strong.
He’s strong enough to find us a new home and provide us with the money we need to secure it. He’s strong enough to help us through a separation as the children and I likely head to another state to stay with family as my husband remains here for work. He’s strong enough to get me through the rest of this pregnancy even under such circumstances.
But mostly, He’s strong enough to use this situation to work for good in the life of a woman who may not know Him. And He’s strong enough to help us walk away, pride in check and heads held high as we extend forgiveness and trust that He has a plan. A really, really good one.
This is the prayer I wrote in my journal this morning. I share in case any of you are needing to be emptied of pride or bitterness.
I am a prideful, sinful woman. I am filled with a bitterness I don’t even recognize. I anger easily and want my way. Subdue me. Save me from myself. Give me a desire to be more, better. Equip me with a heart for that which is right and empty me of this darkness that has me chasing down my rights. Help me learn to be willing to be wronged and teach me to be able to return evil with kindness. Thank you for not discarding me, as I do others when I can’t find the good in them. Amen.