The Unexpected

I hope that some of you have noticed an absence in my posts over the last two weeks. Let me explain why you have not seen any posts from me lately.

When we moved to Fort Worth almost a year ago, we made the decision that we would rent a house for the first year. This would give us the opportunity to learn our new community and decide which areas would be a good fit for us. It was a fantastic idea. We quickly came to realize that we enjoyed the area of Fort Worth in which our rental home was located. We also came to understand that the neighborhood in which we were living was nice but not the one where we wanted to settle permanently. Our original time frame was to start seriously looking for the right house in November and if we did not locate the one, we could always extend our lease month by month if necessary. However, our plans changed and events occurred very quickly.

The first catalyst for our change of plans was receiving contact from the rental company on behalf of the owners of our property in September. The woman who spoke with my husband indicated that the owners wanted us to consider purchasing the home from them. This offer took us by surprise which led us into a discussion about our permanent home sooner than we had anticipated. The conditions which the current owners were placing on their offer seemed unreasonable to us even if the price sounded very good. My husband contacted the realtor who we worked with during our hunt for a rental home, and the one who we had decided would be our choice during our search for a house to buy. She agreed that the price was right but the terms were not. She also informed us after hearing our original plans that if we were to go to a month-by-month rental agreement, the owners would likely raise our rent approximately $300 a month. We were not willing to pay the additional amount so our timeline was moved up. Our lease was over on December 31, so we would need to vacate by that time.

Along comes the next catalyst for change. Since we were going to have to find a home quicker than planned, we moved up the search process start to be October and hopefully locate a house by November. If this time frame worked, we would not have a mortgage payment until January, so no month would have a rent and mortgage payment at the same time. The last weekend in September we decided to begin attending some open houses. The first home we visited was nice. It had great curb appeal along with some amenities which were inviting. The asking price was well below our top target price so that was a plus as well. The major drawback was that it was a two-story home, and we were hoping to find a single story home. The location was also outside of our preferred area. We went to two more open houses that weekend. One home was definitely not viable for us. The third was a possibility but once again was outside of our target area and the price was at the top of our budget. Since we had agreed that it would be unwise to buy the first house we viewed, we planned to move on in our search. My husband did contact our realtor on Sunday night to update her on what we had seen and set up a time to view some houses with her.

Then came the early Monday morning call. Our realtor had contacted the seller’s realtor to get more information on the first home which we liked. She called my husband as he was leaving for work to inform us that the sellers had received an offer over the weekend and were planning on determining if they would accept that offer or not by noon on Monday. Now what do we do? After a conversation, we agreed to make an offer a bit higher than the asking price. By early afternoon, we had received word that our offer had been verbally accepted by the seller. Now it was time to scramble to lock in financing and begin the endless amount of paperwork. We were on the road to becoming homeowners once again and October had not even begun.

I am not going to go through the nightmare of all the paperwork related to securing financing for a home in this post. I will save that for a future post. However, the next two weeks amounted to telling the lending company everything about us in minute detail and providing documents to prove what we said. Then it was wait time to see if we were approved for the loan. In the meantime, I had to set up an inspector for the home, secure a moving company, and begin getting utilities turned off at the rental while turning them on at the new house. The closing date of November 15 was our agreed upon target. At least we had decided to let the moving company pack us so that was one item off our list of to-do’s.

Everything was approved and our timeline was going to work out. Our official move date would be November 26 (which I had mistakenly thought was the week after Thanksgiving). Because of my mistake in planning around Thanksgiving, we were packed on Monday, moved on Tuesday, and celebrated Thanksgiving with friends on Thursday. Now you understand why my posts were less frequent for a few weeks and non-existent for a couple of weeks.

Throughout this whole process, I again discovered God at work in our lives. Through the Lord, we maneuvered the unexpected and found more than what we had originally hoped to find. We are now settled into our new home and as of this weekend, decorated for Christmas. The anticipation that accompanies Advent became a real experience for us as we officially began establishing roots in our Texas home. Thanks be to God!

I am back on track and will resume my writing. Please look for future posts on a more regular schedule.

Evil

Evil is one of those words which we attribute to a variety of people and situations, but I am not sure any of us have the ability to give a full definition of this word. Some definitions on dictionary.com which caused me to pause are these:

morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked

harmful; injurious

the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin

There are aspects of each of these definitions which resonate with me. They easily fit within my understanding of this word. Yet there are also some questions which these definitions raise. Questions like…

Who defines “morally wrong”?

Is there one understanding of harmful or injurious?

Where does this force in nature come from?

Here is where deriving a definition for the word evil becomes a difficult task. As you can see by the questions I raised, there is some degree of subjectivity here. There is also a need to grapple with the spiritual aspect of the word. Add to these the historical impact of the interpretation and use of the word. Maybe this was not a wise subject for me to tackle in a blog post. In fact, you can find volumes of books and papers dealing with this subject.

Yet I am drawn to say something about this word. I have seen it used in a variety of ways and in a variety of contexts over the last few months. Each time I have read it or heard it on television, I have paused to consider what the writer or speaker was trying to communicate when using this word. The application of the word was definitely not consistent. I had to ask myself how I understood this word and would apply it.

Remembering the struggles in creating a definition which I raised earlier, I caution you that my definition is far from being fully encompassing. I am sure there will be noticeable gaps you can find in my definition. You may have questions that arise like those I listed above. However, I am going to make an attempt.

My definition: Evil is the absence of the recognition of God in an action taken by a human being.

Let me unpack that definition a little. First, I want to point out the last two words. These are important words for me because it states that evil is attributed to a person or persons not to some spirit. One can argue that the state of mind of a person who does evil can be somewhat spiritual in nature. A person who does evil may have some physical or psychological issue which prompts them to act such as a chemical imbalance in their body or the impact of experiences in their lives. What remains is the fact that evil is done by a human being.

Next is the phrase, “the absence of the recognition of God.” I am stating here that God is not absent at the time an evil act is committed but that the perpetrator of the act does not recognize God at that time. The reason I state it this way is because I have a strong belief that God is always present so stating that evil is the absence of God does not align with this belief. Since God is love as I understand God, anything which is harmful to any of creation is inconsistent with God. So there must be an absence of some sort here. For me the absence lies with the person committing the act. Whatever the reason, this person does not recognize God in the particular setting and so is destructive in some manner. If the person recognized God in the situation, the person would refrain from a destructive behavior.

Another important point concerning evil is that a person is not evil. Every person is created in the image of God and God is not evil. In fact God is the antithesis to evil. Because of this, the other vital word in my definition is action. The evil exists within the action and not the person. So often we wish to portray a person as evil but that is inconsistent with my understanding of who we are as a creation of God.

There you have it. My current working definition of evil. I would love to hear your viewpoints on this definition. I would also like to hear how you define the word evil. We can learn from each other.