After thoroughly re-organizing the garage yesterday morning, I decided it was time to tackle my bathroom. I dearly love my little sister. However, I seriously question her love for all things green. She and her husband stayed in the basement I call mine for a few months after her oldest daughter was born. Not joking, every room was a different shade green. At one point, six spaces in this house were green of some sort. We used to tease her, because we could all see exactly which rooms were hers at one point. If it was green, chances were really good it was hers when it was painted. Thinking about it, I don't think a single room is green in her house now. Wonder why... I really do love her. She is an awesome little sister. Anyway, before I totally get distracted, I will keep moving. So, this split pea soup green bathroom that I have lived with for way too long was finally going to see its last day. I gathered up spackle, tape, rollers, brushes, paint, primer, a ladder, paint trays and cups, and a few other items needed to get the job going. I prepped the bathroom, sanded some rough places on the walls, repaired some small nail holes, and taped around about a million fixtures. It looked a lot like this:
|This really did not do the green color justice. It was not a muted color.|
It was around this point that I began to either be totally impressed upon by God or be trapped with paint fumes for a little too long. I started to think about how my heart is so like those walls. (Em, if you are reading this, please don't be offended. I just really don't like green walls, not that there is anything wrong with them, they just aren't me...) The walls of my heart used to be this nasty disgusting shade of pea soup green, with little holes every now and again, a few gash marks here and there, some funky flaking going on around the edges. Not really thinking I could be anything more than ugly. Worn out. In need of some repairs and fresh paint.
As much as I hate to think about it, a lot of the ugliness I put there myself. I can't even begin to express how often I heard I was worthless, stupid, unimportant and without ability to be beautiful. Eventually, I didn't need to hear it to just know it. Something I learned early in school was the difference between common knowledge and knowledge you had to back with proof. Common knowledge was basic; something everyone knew. Anything else needed a citation, proof that it was fact, evidence going for the statement. Well, me being lower than scum was pretty much common knowledge. If you don't believe me, well, let's be nice and just say it was accepted as common knowledge. I knew I would never be a good enough wife, mother, housekeeper, fix-it man, cook, or anything else. The harder I tried, the worse I felt, the worse I became. Eventually, I would just walk around doing my normal day-to-day stuff and bad mouth myself. I knew it was going to happen anyway, so I may as well get part of it over with. The worst part, you ask? The thought that I would never get any better. Nothing I would ever do would change any of this common knowledge. It was fact, believed completely, unchangeable. I began to really tear myself down so I didn't have so far to fall when other people in my world did, because in that part of my life, it was only a matter of time.
Filling in the holes, sanding down the rough spots, I started thinking about how God will soften our hearts to things around us. He will start gently taking care of the blemishes, the ugly spots, long before we allow him to finish the work. For me, this started last year with the book You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth. This book taught me to replace ugly words and lies with God's truth about me - straight from the word of God. God just started filling in hole by hole, gouge by gouge, until all I had left were the little white patches, all I had were the scars. Every once in a while, one of those scars would burst open, a fresh wound would appear. Little by little, I started learning where to turn when I experienced "ugly" moments. Replace the yuck with truth, ask for help and encouragement, and walk forward knowing I was only ugly or worthless or unimportant or stupid if I allowed myself to be that way. I made the choice to refuse to believe it.
Then came the fun part of priming it. In all honesty, I am just going to say I hope I never, ever, ever have to paint the bathroom ever again. In my best Taylor Swift voice, like ever. Seriously. Anyway, it was at this point that I was frustrated, a little lonely, a little more than sore (more from lifting and moving boxes all morning than painting), and starting to throw myself a mini pity party. I decided I was done complaining. I was going to just be thankful for a new coat of paint. Literally, not symbolically. So, I began thinking and praising for what I did have. It made me really start thinking about how God must feel when we finally let go. We aren't quite finished, but we get to be healed and washed clean. Priming that bathroom did not mean I was anywhere near done, but it did mean I had a workable canvas. It made me really think about whether or not I was letting the heavenly artist do his work, or if I was going to keep undoing what was already done. Keep gouging those weak areas that weren't completely dry and ready for the next step, or if I was going to allow God to sand them down and make them usable. He had my battered, bruised, hardened heart. He made some repairs, but I wasn't his finished creation just yet. What was I going to allow him to do?
By the time I finally got to put on some soft, romantic pale lavender paint on those primered walls, I thought I was gonna do some happy dancing. I just started to think about the ugly that those walls were, but how amazingly beautiful they were gonna be when I was finished. I am not God, nor do I want anyone to think that I think I am. But, I did start to think about the way God must feel when he sees one of his daughters walking forth in renewed beauty. When we finally let his mighty hands cover up all of those ugly, battered places and make them fresh, renewed, beautiful. I felt so happy, so relieved to be done. I just wanted to sit in there and soak it all in. Yeah, I know this sounds ridiculously silly, because I really sound crazy, but He does this awesome thing in us, and just wants to sit back and enjoy it with us.
I guess my questions tonight are these: Can you praise him while he's filling in your holes? What about when he's wiping the canvas clean? Do you praise him when the work is nearing completion or just run to the next thing? He has a plan. He has a vision and a dream for you. To take you from ugly pea soup to peaceful, soothing pale lavender. Just wait for him. It is a process. Praise him. Thank him. Let it go. Quit destroying the work he is doing, and let him be the artist. Just as I had a purpose and a plan with that sandpaper, those rough times are just softening you, getting you ready for something bigger and better. Are you ready? Cause He's waiting with exactly what you need to be healed and whole, refreshed and renewed, beautiful.