I love my new house. It’s just the right size for my family. Not too big, not too small. Towering trees transforming the yard into a forest. Nature framed like a masterpiece through walls of windows and sliding glass doors. Imported tile that, as my husband loves to point out, allows me to literally walk on Italy every day. My very own orange trees, God’s bounty at my fingertips. Six little minutes from where ocean collides with land.
But it wasn’t perfect when we bought it, and it still isn’t what your average homeowner considers “move-in ready.” Life doesn’t always wait for perfect.
There are outlet covers, trim pieces, drawer handles and closet doors missing. The bathrooms need to be re-done and the windows need to be replaced. There are hidden costs we hadn’t planned on and light switches that go to…nothing. There is an overgrown yard begging to be groomed. The temperature still doesn’t feel quite right, the ice machine isn’t hooked up, and I’m not sure where I put anything.
But I am so in love with this project. Yes, when I look at the growing list of repairs it seems daunting. That’s not a reason to stop moving forward. It’s a reason to start.
As I look around our work-in-progress house, I see a reflection of our work-in-progress souls. A mirror of a life in transition, a re-building phase. We are a living renovation.
What is physically happening in us and around us and through us is so often an indication of what is happening spiritually. Our health, our attitudes, our words, our clothes, and even our houses can paint a pretty accurate picture of what is happening on the inside.
There’s something satisfying about my family coming together to work on the things that are most important for the way we are meant to live. The bow of entitlement that comes cleverly wrapped around this one-click world is starting to unravel in this house. (It turns out silver platters are even nicer when they are handed over along with knowledge and experience.)
Unnecessary walls are demolished as we’re learning what should go and what should stay.
Each light switch that doesn’t work yet is a concept waiting to click into an “aha moment.”
Every dingy vent cover painted back to life proves that all it takes is a little effort.
We are riding the waves together – rejoicing over laying the last tile, then noticing a day later that one is a bit crooked and another is coming loose.
Starting and finishing.
Finishing and re-starting.
Sweeping it clean only to get recovered in dust.
There are dreams in the making, coming to life right before my eyes. Sometimes I long to have it done “right now.” But I get over it quickly when I see my husband emerge from his latest battle, covered in sawdust and paint, with a huge grin on his face finally replacing the furrowed brow he wore as he labored through it.
We have done home improvement projects before. Why is this project so fulfilling? Because it finally feels as if we’re building on solid ground instead of shifting sand. Because we’re being intentional and purposeful. Because I know that this house is just temporary, but this faith that is being built at the same time is eternal.
It’s exhaustively hard work – but in the best way. Because I see learning. I see growth. I see becoming. Refining. Changing. Letting go. I see holding on only to what is the most important because there just isn’t room for storage. I see tolerance overcoming impatience. I see sacrifice overcoming comfort.
I’m at peace knowing it’s going to take a long time. The best things always do.
But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. ~2 Peter 3:13-15 (NRSVCE)
I’m going to be covered in debris for awhile. That’s just how it is.
When a sculptor is sculpting, isn’t there a bit of a mess while the work is in progress?
Do I expect it not to hurt as God is chiseling away and making a new shape?
There is excitement in the air, seeing it start to come together, but still having no idea what the finished product will look like.
I don’t mind being unfinished, as long as I stay in His very capable hands.
Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6 (DRA)