Posted by: Kara Luker | November 14, 2017

Love your life or list it?

Hillary&DavidOnce in a while, we watch a show called Love It or List It. Each episode focuses on a married couple who owns a home with significant issues. Half of the couple always thinks these are livable or fixable issues, while the other thinks the only solution is to sell the home and buy another one. A designer named Hillary tries to entice the couple to stay (love it) by addressing the problems with the current home, and a realtor named David tries to entice the couple to move (list it) by hunting down properties that bypass their problems. Each is given a budget by the homeowners, and set off on a problem solving adventure. It ends when, having seen the best Hillary and David have to offer, the couple declares whether they will love their home or list it.

What is truly astonishing to me – and the reason I watch the show – is how someone with vision (and a budget to fund it), like Hillary and her team, can transform a space so completely that it hardly resembles its former self. We’re not just talking about hanging some pictures on a wall and moving furniture around. These people bust down walls, raise rooflines and rearrange rooms to make it function like a good house should, and then fill these renovated spaces with beautiful things to make them feel warm and inviting. I’m not someone with that kind of vision, so it borders on the miraculous to me.

Gutted House.jpg

As with any good story, obstacles arise. Construction begins and deeper problems surface… maybe a faulty foundation, water damage or bad plumbing, which have to be fixed before moving forward with the design plans (because building pretty rooms on top of major problems is utter foolishness). Upon hearing about these setbacks, some homeowners continue to trust in Hillary’s ability to come through, while many nurture a growing doubt that this house will ever become what they need it to be. But, of course, when the results are revealed, which tend to be pretty extraordinary, those doubts are replaced by a dropped jaw and a sense of awe.

My cousin quickly tired of the show because, as she said, “They always choose to stay!” I had to laugh because while it’s not entirely true, they almost always choose to stay. I mean, like 9 out of 10 times. It’s kind of ridiculous.* But when you see “more than you could ask or imagine” become a reality before your very eyes… and you happen to own that stunning reality, it makes sense to me that you would pass on all the other tempting options and hold on tight to what you’ve got.

I get this on a very personal level, having spent much of my life wanting to “list it.” Not my house, mind you, but my life. The issues I had did not seem remotely fixable and my doubt over the possibility of the “house” I inhabited being made stable or functional, never mind beautiful, seemed insurmountable. As with the show, I’ve also had two people along on the journey: God, a designer with vision for even the most dilapidated and dysfunctional house, and the devil, a realtor bent on showing me how much better all the other houses are (as if I could just sell off my life and get another one). Both operate on the simple budget of my trust.

If I’m honest, I was mostly hoping God would just beautify my life – you know, give my circumstances a facelift and put some fresh paint on a few irksome behaviors. There certainly wasn’t enough trust in the budget to do any major kind of work. But, if you’ve had any interactions with this particular Designer, you probably know quite well that He is not some sort of flipper who makes things look nice and leaves the real work undone. He is in the business of a full and complete restoration. He is committed for the long haul and is in no rush to do the work, so long as it is done right.

The work always began when I came to the end of my ability to cope with the exasperating realities of living in my dysfunctional house and recognized the need for change. Of course, at that opportune moment, the devil would direct my focus to everyone else’s houses, which seemed to be lacking my particular problems. When I tried to defend God’s plans for my life, he responded much like David who is always saying, “Yeah, but is Hillary going to give you this [insert awesome feature]?” As I invested my trust in his angle, doubt would come, as would envy and self-pity and maybe some accusations against God for the crappy house He gave me and all the things that He, like Hillary, was going to be unable to accomplish. But that only ever made things worse, leaving me with the same problems and a bad attitude.

So, with nothing to lose, I would give God a little (and I mean a little) trust and freedom to do some work. Time after time, He would take that tiny little budget and do something beautiful with it – always according to His vision and order, not mine – and yet it was undeniably good. Which built enough trust to give Him a bigger budget for the bigger work that needed to be done. I won’t say it wasn’t terrifying as the work got underway or that I didn’t doubt His ability to fix the wretched mess of it all as walls were knocked down and deeper problems were exposed – flawed beliefs in my foundation, creating instability for every square inch of house on top; water damage from the storms in life where the house was not fully covered by truth; faulty wiring and rusted-out plumbing, creating an inability to give or receive light and life. But there seemed no other viable way; just forward.

Thankfully, despite seasons of all-out panic and denial and many appointments with that shady realtor, the good work has continued on and I know with everything in me that I’m being reconstructed on the most solid foundation to last for the duration. Already, I hardly bare a resemblance to my former, broken-down self and yet I know there is so much more transformation to come. Like I said, this Designer won’t quit until everything is strikingly complete.

At this point, I feel like I’m still a stripped-down house, but do you know what? For the first time in my life, I think this house – this life – is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and the only place I would want to live. So I am choosing not just to tolerate it, but to fully and wholly embrace and inhabit it. Yes, indeed, I am choosing to Love It.


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…” Ephesians 3:20-21

*I do realize this is TV drama and it’s hard to know what’s real. And, no, I don’t think David is the devil 🙂


  1. Wow! LOVE, as always! Nice comparison!

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