Little could I have known how similar the house I bought last year was to me. It was burn-your-eyes stinky from the cat with no box, beat up from the owner’s power wheelchair going down too narrow of hallways, and was overdue for some maintenance and TLC.
From today’s vantage point, the similarities are obvious, but perhaps it was because I was too tired or probably just so used to having to press on that I couldn’t fully acknowledge my emotional and physical state. Yet as my house has undergone a radical transformation, I’ve realized I have, too.
Yes, I became stronger as I moved materials, mastered using a jackhammer, and carried tons (literally) of rocks to my backyard.
We stripped my house bare hours after closing on it, pulling up carpeting, tearing down wallpaper, and chiseling out old tiles.
I, too, was stripped down. I had recently gone through a divorce and for as hard and grueling as that process was, there was another event that happened simultaneously that was even worse. Then there was the hour-long commute each day to an office that is known for trying to keep employees there by belittling them so frequently that they come to believe they aren’t capable of working elsewhere.
I’m honestly not sure if I have any pictures of me during this time, but if I did, you’d probably see the resemblance between me and my skeleton house.
I bought my house knowing it had good bones and because my dad, the ultimate fixer-upper, could see beyond what was and helped me catch a vision of what it could be. He helped me realize the makeover was doable.
I’m grateful for the others who have seen past my then deep-seated sorrow, confusion and heartache. They didn’t minimize my hurts and never criticized me for grieving what needed to me mourned. But they also loved me enough to see something other than the stinky mess that I was and gave me thumbnail sketches of what life could look like at some point on the journey.
Neighbors I barely know are astonished at what my house looks like today. Gone are the pink walls, magenta carpets, rippled wallpaper, and beat up walls. In their place is a warm, honey hardwood, a fireplace encased in stone that is warm and inviting, and soft hues that beckon a quiet peace.
Friends are seeing the transformation, too. I got to visit with missionaries who are currently on furlough from Africa. One of them reminded me about when I last saw him 3 years ago. I honestly don’t even remember meeting them for coffee, which is more a testament to the crazy I was living at the time than anything else. I couldn’t remember, but he definitely could.
I absolutely, completely love my house. Sure, it has things left to be done and the oh-so-lovely smell of cat pee leeks out of one spot on humid days, but its my house. It’s been built with love, care and deliberation. It is gorgeous, especially because I know all too well what it once was.
Dare I say that I’m beginning to feel the same about this person whose life has been radically transformed? It has been intentional. Nothing has been wasted. Just like the days when it seemed like little progress was made on the house, the changes have been measured on a wider scale–and measurable, they are!
I share this because I was told that my stinky mess knocked me out of being eligible to share anything at all. If there happens to be anyone out there who doesn’t have a little stink somewhere buried in their life story, then you don’t need encouragement. But for the rest of us, let my little candle shine bright for you. Just like the days when my surroundings were too dark for me to always hold the Light and others helped pray me to the throne, I’ll offer a little piece of heaven to you right now. You are loved. Period. Not if the renovations happen or if you can cover your stench. Just, loved. And seasons are real. Hang on if you find yourself in the deepest winter, but more importantly, hold tight with everything you have to Him, even if the clinging comes through others carrying you to the Almighty because you’re too weary to do so yourself.