I can't adequately express the feeling of getting up every morning and seeing little changes happening around our home. More evenings than not, a reno project is tackled. Some nights it may be as minimal as changing out some outlet covers or rewiring a switch. Other nights it may be replacing a door or rebuilding some frames (seems like nothing in this house has been plumb or square!). Some projects have been much larger such as a complete bathroom overhaul. MANY, MANY nights have been spent painting walls or dark trim white. I'm loving seeing every single surface being touched by our hands and made our own. It's what we wanted (even with the headaches, stress, and overwhelming days). We wanted to make something old new again, even on a limited budget. Even our oldest son came home from a weekend trip away and walked around looking for what was different. He says it's like a game of hide and seek every time he comes home from being gone for more than 24 hours.
This morning the change was walking into our schoolroom and it finally being painted. Everything hasn't been put back in place since we still have touch up to do and baseboards to replace. However, just seeing the walls done was a source of joy, even with everything now disorganized again. It was also the smile that came from walking past the first replacement door completely finished. Seeing the final result of ONE gave me excitement and encouragement to hang in through the chaos and the days of everything being mismatched as we do one by one.
As I was looking around this morning and just seeing how far we've come, what's left, and everything in between, there was a whisper to my heart.
"I'm at work in you, too."
My heart is like our home renovation.
When we began looking at houses, we saw many that we thought were beyond repair. We saw some that were too perfect or lacking in character. When we walked into the one we bought, we didn't buy it for what it looked like at the moment. We bought it for its potential, knowing it had solid structure and no major hidden issues that were of safety concern.
When Christ looks at my heart, He doesn't turn away because I'm too much work. He doesn't see me beyond repair.
I'm a broken mess.
He sees my beauty despite the flaws. He sees my potential. He knows I have the right make up to create something worthwhile in.
But, do I see it?
Recently I saw a facebook drawing of a body completely covered in words. Though I don't remember the exact caption, it was basically asking a question. What if every word we said was written on our skin? In that particular case, it was referring to how we speak to each other and the division our nation has been facing. In other words, watch your words. Watch how you speak to each other or about each other. Though I thought that was VERY powerful, I though of it from a different perspective.
What if every single thing I said about myself on the inside was written on the outside? Would my skin be covered in beautiful encouraging words or negativity?
Would I want to walk around with those negative words and feelings I hear myself speaking in my head? We can be our own worst critics. Things we would never say out loud, we can park our thoughts on and absorb. We can say them so often we believe them to be the truth. They are lies. The lies have to be replaced with the REAL TRUTH He speaks over us.
I'm not good enough.
He says: You are more than enough.
I'm fat, ugly, old, or this or that is too big, too small, too wide, too skinny, too floppy, too bumpy....
He says: You're beautiful. You're made in MY image.
I'm incomplete, unseen, unworthy, alone, etc...
He says: In me you are complete, I see you ALWAYS. You are worth every sacrifice I made for you, even to the cross. I'm ALWAYS with you.
I'm weak, incapable, not worth the effort.
He says: Operate in my strength, let me teach you and mold you. Let me equip you.
I've messed up too much.
He simply and powerful says: You're forgiven.
And so many more.
IF we are willing to submit our lives to Him, He can change us from the inside out.
It's an ongoing process.
Just like in our home reno, we are finding some things take MUCH more time than we thought. As we begin to pull back one layer or remove one part, we find there is something else lurking underneath. We can't just leave it, it must be fixed underneath or the outside fix won't last long. The same in our hearts, we HAVE to let Him go deep. Just a little patch on the outside of our hearts may be a temporary fix, but if we don't get to the root, we will still rot.
House renovating just like heart renovating isn't quick, easy, or without mess. It's downright chaos and filthy. You can get one thing accomplished and cleaned up, but as soon as you start something else that mess just spreads.
We can feel like God is at work in us so much that we can't get one change in our hearts rooted, established, and "cleaned up" before another one is overtaking and leaving us all over the place again. Our hearts are complex and messy. I dare say that none of us have just one single area needing work.
THAT feeling drives me crazy. I can easily get discouraged knowing that I have so many things to work on at once.
So what do we do when we have a long list of things for God to change in our hearts or tasks at hand?
I have to apply the same things to my life that I'm applying in home reno land.
We can't do everything at once, either financially or with our time. We have to decide what makes the biggest impact, be logical, and be willing to wait on some things. We aren't giving up on the other projects, we just realize that they aren't immediate. They make take extra planning or extra prep work. Some may take multiple steps. No different with our hearts.
Expect mess. Be willing to get dirty. Be willing to fail and try again.
Keep a goal in mind and remember why you started in the first place-
In the middle of the chaos, when you're stepping over paint cans and supplies, when your clean floor or your fresh laundry or dusted furniture is now covered AGAIN, or when something you just got unboxed and organized has to be moved AGAIN....you HAVE to remember why you are doing what you are doing and keep looking towards the finished project you have in mind or YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MIND. When you're making heart changes or working towards a physical goal (like fitness or weight loss), you have to keep looking towards the results you are wanting or you will easily give up on the hard days. Know your WHY and WHERE you are going or it's easy to get lost.
Focus on the positive changes-
Today I can look at the finished door and be proud of what's done. I can look at the schoolroom's walls and be excited. OR I can look at the undone and things left to do. Which do you think brings the most peace? Focusing with gratitude and accomplishment or getting bogged down about what still isn't right or in process. When we are allowing God to shape us, we can look at what He's already done in us and let that encourage us to keep on the path. Or we can choose to focus on the negativity and drown. Our choice.
Embrace the flaws-
It's ok to have imperfections. We will never be perfect. God doesn't expect perfection. He knows our hearts and motivations. Let me add, some things we see as flaws aren't actually flaws. They are things that make us unique. We aren't meant to be identical to someone else. We bought this house despite it being a very unique shade of green. To some it's a "flaw" that needs to be changed. To others they love it because it has character and uniqueness. We all have some things that might annoy us or make us self-conscious, but they really are a part of us and a part that makes us who we are. For example, I'm extremely introverted. For so long, I saw that as a flaw. In reality, that same personality trait makes me more intuitive to the needs of others and gives me a deep level of empathy. Some things aren't flaws at all and just need to be embraced.
Work as a team-
No project in our home has been done alone. It's taken each and every one of us. Some of us have more vision, some of us have more skill, some of us have knowledge and some of us have hands on experience. We all have our talents and gifts. It takes all of it. When we don't have the skill, tool, or know how: we ask, we borrow, we research, etc... In our heart reno, we have to ask for help when needed. First of all we ask God for help. We ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We also ask for help from others that can rally around us and help us. A friend who has walked our path, prayer warriors, encouragers, etc...
Above all, we don't quit when we don't see the progress we want or when the task is taking MUCH longer than we thought. When it gets more complicated we don't run away. We dig in. We try harder. We try a new approach. We step away and regroup, take a break if necessary.
Renovation is time consuming. As I'm learning first hand, it's a constant work in progress. One task leading to another...
When you see a finished project you KNOW it was worth the blood, sweat, and even tears. (Yes, there's been all of that involved at some point or another).
When you reach a goal, you know it was worth it.
When you see your heart being shaped to be more like His, you know it was worth the uncomfortable refining and pruning.
So beyond worth it.