For years, I stalked this house. I’d fallen in love with it by accident when I was exploring that matrix of streets surrounding Frederick Douglas’ estate, which sits high on a monstrous hill and looks down on a smaller homes not quite as grand but still beautifully historic. Like so many others in the neighborhood, my house—because, in my mind, it was already my house—bore the wounds of neglect and the bruises of age. I didn’t care that it was a little tumbledown. I adored it anyway.
When the suckishness of apartment living grated my last nerve down to the nub, I’d find respite in fantasizing about my first home. I envisioned how I would renovate and decorate it, contemplated adding another bathroom, wondered where my guests would park when I hosted my housewarming. One Sunday, I was so wound up in the spirit after church that I took my bold self up to the porch and held hands with my daughter to pray that the property would someday be ours. She was probably on the other end pleading the blood of Jesus for the very opposite thing. Whatever. I sealed my supplication with an “amen” and a won’t-he-do-it first pump and left the Lord to his work.
Sometime at the end of last year, I slacked up on my impromptu drive-bys. The next time I cruised past, my heart dropped: there was a sale sign taunting me in the yard and the telltales of construction scattered by the fence. Someone un-abandoned my abandoned home. Someone else saw its understated potential. It was just a house that didn’t know who I was, but it gave me something to work towards and dream about, especially in a time when I had been broken by a breakup and downsized out of a day job. It may seem silly, but it felt like another loss. God had declined my prayer request, and I mourned something that was never mine in the first place.
All my naming and claiming, believing and receiving—for a relationship I just knew would mature into a marriage and for a gig that provided security while I chased my dreams—failed to give me favor I could see. Now, the house that was the object of my real estate affections and the inspiration behind my enrollment in the first-time buyers program wasn’t on the “no” list too. And when God says “no” there ain’t much wiggle room for argument.
Continue reading on to find out how to survive when God does not answer your prayers at Essence.com