renovation

Posted: March 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

My parents have renovated a number of houses during my lifetime, either in part or completely.  While at least one of these was a house they bought and “flipped” without ever moving in, in most cases we lived at the locations in question.  We never moved out while the renovations were happening, which means I’ve experienced the process start-to-finish.

The first one that I can remember is what I believe was their second home as a married couple – the first house they ever bought.  Thinking of it now, I realize they’d have been still teenagers when they started that project, I think, or maybe 20 at the latest.  That impresses me.  I don’t have a ton of memories from that one, since I was still a toddler I think – just the memory walking through the plastic hung across the doorway and into the completely gutted kitchen, and that there WAS no “upstairs” at first but then they made a carpeted stairway up to the attic and turned it into a master bedroom…and then how pretty it all was when it was done.  My parents are basically amazing.

Renovating is not a pretty process.  You take an area that’s not good enough and you make it a lot worse at first, ripping and tearing until it’s down to the framework.  There is all kinds of unlovely, unglamorous, unexciting work to do that involves wiring and such.  There is drywall to be hung and plastered and sanded meticulously.  It takes what seems unreasonably long to get through all the messy, ugly, unrewarding parts before you start to enter into the passage where potential begins to become evident.  You have to be equal parts brave, skilled, and stubborn to pull it off, I think.

Our pastor made a deeply true statement this past Sunday while hammering home the importance of being consistently in our Bibles.  He said that when we study the Word, it renovates areas of our mind, will, and emotions that are off base.  He was careful to point out that this is not a simple case that we read and then try harder – that it is a supernatural process.  That the Word is transformative as we faithfully immerse ourselves there and let it work in and through us.  Having experienced this very thing, I was wiggling and “amen-ing” in my seat, nodding my head just about off my shoulders as he spoke.  Yes, and yes, and YES.

I appreciate calling it a renovation because that matches how the process can look.  We want and mostly expect to grow in ways that are smooth, painless and pretty.  We hope to just magically get better, with no pain or ugliness involved.  We look around and it appears to us that this is the way the process works for others, and get discouraged that our own journey is bumpy and scratchy and dotted with thorns and great dark chasms along the way.  It’s easy to decide, seeing from that perspective, that we’re doing it wrong…or that it’s just not going to happen for us.  That we’re too defective, not normal, beyond repair or growth.  Certainly without capacity for the kind of beauty we see in others around us.

I like home renovation shows.  I watched every episode I could find on Netflix of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show “Fixer Upper,” and have moved on to checking out “Property Brothers” since then.  Having grown up around renovation, I understand that ugly things have potential to be beautiful, and that it takes work.  I take these kind of shows too personally, getting irritated and griping at the TV when the couples on these shows lack imagination – when they’re touring a place and they appear unable to imagine that it could be everything they ever wanted, just because it’s a heap of garbage today.  In these shows, they’re usually shown about 3 places to choose from; I ALWAYS root (shouting from my couch) for them to choose the place that looks like it should be condemned.  Those are by far the best episodes, as you watch all the old yuck getting stripped away and a gorgeous, comfortable home happening in its place.

When we think we can’t grow because it’s hard, I think we’re like those unimaginative couples on the home renovation shows.  We lack vision.  We lack courage.  Sometimes we’re just flat lazy and don’t want to spend time in ugly places doing uncomfortable things.

But God is for sure in the renovation business.  My own experience has shown me that renovation of the mind, will, and emotions can be every bit as ugly as the tearing-down part of renovating property.  First all the broken parts have to be revealed as such, torn away and tossed out.  A lot of mess has to be cleared, and that work can be tedious or it can be heavy lifting.  It can create a lot of dust and mess.  It can uncover even deeper, harder issues (think hidden mold here – we often find hidden mold in ourselves as we tear away lies that we’ve been believing.)  We can think we’re halfway done and then discover a problem that can only be fixed with more work than we meant to take on, at a much higher cost than we think we can afford.

If you’ve stopped (or never even started) digging into your Bible and letting it renovate your mind, will, and emotions, maybe go watch one of those shows and let the analogy sink in.  You might have some gritty work ahead that you don’t want to or just flat don’t know how to do, but you too could experience an inner renovation that would change the “house” that you’re walking around in.  It could be changed from a barely habitable shack that protects you from almost nothing to a warm, inviting, deeply satisfying place to be.

But you’ve gotta invite the contractor in.  He’ll do a huge chunk of that work supernaturally, as you pick up your Bible, soak it in, and do the hard work of surrender to what He shows you there.

It’s worth the effort.  You’re the one with everything to lose or gain.  C’mon…you know you want to live there.

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