An Empty House


If these walls could speak, what stories would they tell?

Would they speak of love and comfort

or remind me of  the fires of hell?

Would we be afraid of the stories we never want to forget

Would we find comfort

Or would loneliness open its mouth and heave an empty sigh?

If walls could talk, would we be filled up by the stories they would tell?

Or better yet, would they lie

and leave us emptier still? 

I remember this one time last summer. It was the night before Mother’s Day, and my friends and I were hanging out around Gastonia. That night, I had my first experience with Sweet Frog, and let me tell you, it was an experience never to forget.

(I really, really like the idea of frozen yogurt a lot more than I like the frozen treat itself. I probably would’ve enjoyed it more had I not spent the next day in the hospital with severe dehydration due to some pretty gnarly food poisoning. Scott and I always joke about Sweet Frog, as it is a Christian owned company and the “F.R.O.G” is the ever quoted and clichéd acronym meaning “Fully Rely On God.” We would always say “Fully Rely On God? You’ll have to if you go to Sweet Frog!” )

Anyway, after our lovely experience with the Jesus Yogurt, we traveled back to Belmont for some mischief. Personally, I didn’t want to do anything remotely illegal, as cops have always terrified me and my conscience is perhaps, in times like these, my biggest weakness. We ended up going to this old abandoned house and walking through the inside. The door was pretty much just sitting open. Now, not only was I afraid of parking my car behind this place and getting caught by the police, but now I was shaking in fear of getting jumped in a dark house late at night where I didn’t belong.

I’m not superstitious and I could care less about ghost stories and spooks, but if I’m to be completely honest, that night, I was paralyzed with fear and could not shake the feeling that someone was following us. We walked through an old, but not so dilapidated kitchen into an empty living room. In the dim glow of the light of my cell phone, colors and textures were indiscernible. But propped up against the wall, there was a mattress. Someone must’ve been sleeping here! Were we in the house alone? Was there someone else here? As I voiced my concerns, Jordan, Katelyn, Scott, and Stephanie hushed me and told me to turn my cell light off as we walked up the stairs near the big window.

I couldn’t help but wonder what a car driving by, or a neighborhood kid across the street would’ve thought to look up at this old, abandoned house and see a face staring back at them. Is that how urban legends are started, as rumors reflecting a shadow of the truth?

We made our way up the stairs to more empty rooms, one complete with a boarded up fireplace. It was then that I patted my pockets and realized what I’d done. “Guys,” I said, teeth chattering. “I think I locked my keys in my car!” We made our way back to my car and, sure enough, I left them in there, right in the ignition. After almost 30 minutes of trying to pry open my door with various items from the back of Katelyn’s car, she drove me back to my house, where I grabbed the spare key and ran out before my parents could ask me what I was doing.

When we got back, our friends were nowhere to be seen. I looked up at the house and assumed that they were in there. Prepared to go back in and find them, I got out of Katelyn’s car, unlocked mine and retrieved the keys, and faced towards the house, then looked back at the creepy field behind the house. There was tall grass springing up, covering the entire field back to the woods, and the wispy blades of grass were overwhelmed by dense, white fog. Stephanie, Scott, and Jordan rose from the fog, yelling and running towards Katelyn and I and I almost jumped out of my skin.

I remember nights like that with an overwhelming amount of joy, and I also look back on that and feel a nostalgic sense of grief. I will continue to say it with much frequency, I miss Jordan. I miss my buddy who I would always go on adventures with. I miss the random times, kicking back and doing nothing. I miss the deep, passionate conversations, I miss it all.

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m as empty as that house. Like my heart is that empty fire place, that once filled all the rooms with warmth, boarded up for no one to see unless they’re looking for trouble. But in those moments, I am reminded that loss cannot take the passion God has given me, it cannot take away the warmth of those memories that I so cherish. It cannot siphon the sense of camaraderie I have found with my dear friends that are still here and close to my heart. God has not given me a spirit of fear.

I hurt. I ache. My soul is sick, and sometimes that sickness can overwhelm me, but I will hold fast to the promises that I am given in scripture. I will cling tightly to Jesus, a man who was well acquainted with suffering, no stranger to grief. He made himself like me to save me and set me free from myself. And that is reason to rejoice. Because no matter how often it feels like it, I am not alone.

 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. –Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)


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