Monday, March 9, 2015

advice for your renovation {of home or heart}

Home renovation is not for the faint of heart.
We signed the contract on a 1950's ranch on Christmas Day and here we are two months later still dreaming of being settled in our new home.
We are getting closer.

Just this week the giant, rusty dumpster was removed from the front yard.  The pink toilet and rolls of old carpet gone along with it.  Dust that was an inch thick everywhere is slowly being vacuumed, swept, and mopped clean.  I have a kitchen sink.
Hallelujah.  Praise the Lord.
I. have. a. kitchen. sink.
Don't ever take your kitchen sink for granted, people.

Renovating a house means accepting that things will get worse before they get better.
Renovating a house means making costly changes.
Renovating a house means preparing yourself for unexpected problems.
Renovating a house means learning to live in the middle of incomplete.

Renovating a heart is much the same.
To survive renovation of home or heart one thing must be true.
   You must believe that the end result is worth all the inconveniences required to get you there.

Before we walked through the front door we had already fallen in love with this house.
It sat quiet and lonely on a hill.
Acres of land covered in towering pines, climbing ivy, wandering creeks, magnolia, mountain laurel, and dozens of bursts of camellia color surrounded the simple brick structure like an ornate frame.  We walked along the overgrown backyard terrace and peaked down leaf-covered trails and decided that this was the kind of place we could wake up to every morning.  We would accept whatever we found inside those 60 year old brick walls because, after a month of searching, we had found home.

The house welcomed and wooed us but there was work to be done.  To accommodate our family there would need to be additions and repairs and restoration.  And so we began the greuling process because we believed this place was worth the work.
Could we have opted for an easier solution?
Sure.
We could have bought a brand new home where everything was shiny and new.
We also could have moved in this house without changing a thing.
Both options would have been easier in the short-term but we would have missed something in the long-term.

We loved this house - wood paneling and all - and so we accepted it as it was but saw too much potential to leave it that way.  And so the hard work began.

The renovations have
taken longer and
cost more
than expected but we have never regretted engaging this process.

With every wall removed,
every piece of molding repaired,
every room painted
every light fixture cleaned
every countertop replaced
we have celebrated our house becoming more and more what we dreamed it could be.

Don't you know God celebrates too?  Every time we become more of what he dreamed we could be.  He doesn't care how long it takes and he certainly doesn't mind the cost since he already paid with his very life.
Our hope is that our house is being restored for a purpose.
The purpose of housing a family, hosting friends, providing a place for people and grace to be gathered up and shared.

There are still cracks in walls and creaks in floors - all of which are reminders of the story up to this point.
     Our hope for this house is not perfection met, but purpose fulfilled.

God's hope is the same for us - that we would allow for renovations leading us to purpose and progress, not perfection.  Not yet.
But sometimes we set our minds on unrealistic expectations and never get comfortable within the walls of ourselves.  Instead of seeing all the work that has been done and resting there for even a moment we immediately focus on the next messy room, the next repair project.  Our identity is in what needs to be fixed instead of that which is already working beautifully.

Yes, sometimes there are busted pipes - spewing and destructive - that require immediate attention.
But more often the repairs take time.  The next one can wait for us to catch our breath from all the work, and catch a glimpse of all the progress.

The first week in our new house I did something important.
I didn't put away every dish in the kitchen.
I didn't wash every window or sweep every floor.
My priority was to take one room and make it beautiful.  I chose the living room because it needed the least amount of work.  With a little help I was able to transform that one room into a lovely space that served an important function.  I didn't stop once that room was finished.  I didn't just leave all the other rooms trashed.  But I did pause and sit on the pillow-covered couch with my kids and enjoy the view of the painted fireplace adorned with old books and photographs.  We stared at the large canvas colorfully covered with impressionist art and tried to find hidden creatures in the field of tall grass.  Even though the rest of the house still needed a lot of work that room could begin to serve it's purpose.  We could enjoy the progress and the peace that one space represented.

We should do the same thing with our heart renovations.  We can pause and appreciate the places that have been cleaned up and made new.  We can allow them to serve a purpose even if there are still some dirty broken places that remain inside of us.  And like that one beautiful room in my new house, we can come back to it when we are feeling overwhelmed with all the other work being done and be reminded that what was achieved in that place will eventually be achieved everywhere.

I treasure this truth of Jesus.
He came to take the old things and make them new.  He didn't just run a bulldozer over the entire thing and start over.  He saw something worth saving
worth repairing
worth restoring to it's original form
and using for it's original purpose.
It may not be easy but the end result will always justify the work required to get us there.

Sometimes tables need to be flipped and the thieves that have taken up residence to slowly steal our souls need to be kicked out. 
I follow a Jesus who is bold, and dare I say 'offensive' enough, to do just that.

Other times we need to recover from all the upheaval, reconcile that although every room in our hearts is not perfect we can still invite Jesus in and sit at his feet and simply allow his presence to bring change.
I follow a Jesus who is gentle and grace-filled enough to do that too.

The One who created you accepts you just as you are today, but loves you too much to leave you unchanged.
You were created for purpose.
You are worth the work.

So when Jesus came clothed in humanity and humility to live and die and live again, he didn't do it just to change the world around us...
     he did it to change the one within us.

That means it's time to stop being satisfied with a broken-down unfinished version of ourselves.  Get ready for walls to come down and every room to be made new.
     Bring on the renovation.