“Well, you’ve certainly been a great help to a helpless man! You came to the rescue just in the nick of time! What wonderful advice you’ve given to a mixed-up man! What amazing insights you’ve provided! Where in the world did you learn all this? How did you become so inspired?”

~Job 26:1-3


After I bought my house in Colorado, a friend asked how my brother, John, had changed my mind about choosing this house. I thought I’d share that process with you, because it taught me an important lesson about getting unstuck.

I first saw this house, my new house, back in September. I rejected it because I thought the ceilings were too low compared to the very high ceilings of the house I was renting at the time. However, I also sent my brother an email brochure of the property because he was interested in our house hunt. He immediately liked the house and encouraged me to give it further consideration. So over the following months, I went back to the house about five times, each time convincing myself that this was not the house for me. In particular, I didn’t like the small room off of the living room, which was being used as a dining area, because of its low sloping ceiling.

By mid-November, John was calling almost daily for house hunting updates, because the landlord of the house we were renting had informed us that he was going to move back into the house by mid-December, which meant that we needed somewhere to move. Finally, John suggested that he come out to Evergreen from Tampa for a couple days to look at the house with me. I accepted his offer, certain that if he saw the house in person, he would see things my way.

So on a Sunday morning in late-November, the week before Thanksgiving and three weeks before we had to vacate our current home, John flew into Denver and I drove him straight to the house. After he looked around for ten minutes, he sat down on the steps and said, “I don’t want to influence you, but I’d buy this house.” He then proceeded to go through my list of objections one by one and offered actual solutions that would fix the problems:

Don’t like a sloping ceiling? Build a gabled roof! Don’t like the master bath? Put in those pebbled floors you’ve always dreamed of!

Did I mention that John is also a building contractor with a great deal of experience with home remodels?

Suddenly, instead of seeing that house as a source of frustration, I was filled with ideas to create a place I would really love. Yes, it would take time and money . . . and it could be years before I would be able to accomplish everything. But instead of frustration, I had new projects to dream and plan! Something clicked in my mind, and I was able to shift my perspective and see the house differently. Instead of focusing on its perceived faults, I was able to see its real beauty. That’s probably why I feel so at home here now.

Two days later, as I was driving John to the airport for his flight home, I received the call that my offer on the house had been accepted.

On one level, this is a story about what a great brother I have (and I do) and how my family offered wonderful advice and support during a very stressful time (which they did, thank you Kathy!). But it’s also a story about how to get unstuck.

Sometimes we can become so entrenched in our own opinion and so close to the problem we’re trying to solve that we feel paralyzed with indecision. I believe that this is when God may send other people into our lives to help us see our situation from a new perspective, one which will help us to move forward. However, we also need to be open to receiving that advice.

After the dust settled, I asked John how he had known what to say to me. He said that he listened to my objections to the house as he would listen to a client. Then, when he saw the house in person, he was able to counter my “feelings” about the house with concrete solutions.

Luckily, because I respect my brother’s superior knowledge of houses, I was able to allow myself to look at things differently and thus move forward from a limited belief to excitement about new possibilities. The irony is that, of course, the house hadn’t changed a bit in the two months I’d been looking at it; only my perspective had changed.

When I face what seems like an insurmountable problem, or when I feel myself getting stuck by one view of a situation, I will remember that if I am willing to open my mind, the solution will appear from a different perspective.

As to that dining area that caused me such frustration? Turns out that when my own dining room set was in there, it looked beautiful and has become one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Are you stuck? How might a different approach help you find a new solution? Do you have a friend or sibling who can offer wise counsel or a fresh perspective?

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