In 2011, Dean and I bought our house, a cute little fixer upper with good strong bones, and Dean was ready to jump in with sledgehammers blazing. I, on the other hand, was a little more timid about how we would go about making over our little stuck-in-the-80s rambler. I wanted everything planned out. I wanted to know exactly what we would find once we started demo. Of course, if you have ever fixed up a house, that is impossible.
I kept making excuses to delay demo. “I want to be able to use my kitchen.” “Christmas is coming up and I want to get a Christmas tree in our living room.”
Well, one sunny Saturday in November 2011, I went for a 6 mile run. I told Dean I would be back in an hour. When I returned, Dean and his dad were just finishing up tearing down the wall that separated our kitchen and living room.
My shock kept my anger at bay, and as the shock wore off I started to see the beauty of what Dean had done. Dean doesn’t seem to fear discomfort like I do. My fear of “not having” outweighed the hope of what would be. But when I came back from my run and suddenly didn’t have a living room or a functioning kitchen in pristine order, it wasn’t so bad.
2012 quickly became the year of demo. We moved from one project to the next, our furniture never staying in one room for more than a month, before moving it to a “finished” area. I say “finished” because we lived on sub-floors for almost a year before putting in the bamboo floors. We wanted everything painted before installation. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for a barefoot loving girl like myself it meant wearing shoes at all times. I was restricted, and that was uncomfortable.
Not only was I forced to wear shoes (oh, the horror) but I was forced to live within a constant cloud of man glitter (aka saw dust and drywall dust). I know I’m being super whiney and this just sounds ridiculous, but I was uncomfortable. I realized I was a little more high maintenance than I thought I was. And my discomfort lasted for months at a time. No sooner did we finish one project than we jumped on to the next. So it was in this time that I started to find peace in the discomfort.
I had special havens in my house. If we were working on the kitchen and living room, then I needed a space in the nursery or guest room to get away from the dust and demo. I found places to breathe. I learned there was time for work and time for rest. I learned that the discomfort wasn’t bad, and it was actually leading to a nicer home. But I learned that my entire life couldn’t be in disarray. I needed constants within the chaos. But as long as I had a clean place to sleep, an organized place to pray, and a comfortable place to watch Lost with my husband, I could endure the discomfort of renovation with…well…comfort. This lesson continues to show up in so many ways: on my yoga mat with deep stretches, in the waiting process for a baby, selling our house and buying a new one, seasons of depression and anxiety, and the list goes on and on. Each time I am reminded that in the midst of chaos I need a constant.
My constant is Jesus. But Jesus is more than just the churchy answer to all questions. Because if you said, “oh Liz, I know you’re uncomfortable, but Jesus can help.” I would have punched you in the face. But it’ so true! Only, I think it’s one of those things you have to find out for yourself. The verse that kept me going during this time was from John 14:1-2
“1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. 2 In my father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you?”
It seems so simple, but I needed to know that I had a place. I needed to know that there was space for me. I needed to know that if God wanted to fix something in one place then he would have room for me to take rest in another. And he did! He always gave me a place for rest and rejuvenation, and not only that but he gave me the vision of the new and improved space as well. He gave me hope! And not only that, but I wasn’t alone! My husband was there beside me, working, dreaming, resting, and encouraging me forward, enduring the same troubles, experiencing the same excitements, and living within the confines of our new and improving home. The inside of his nose was constantly caked with brown dust from sanding door frames just like mine. And he joined me in writing messages in the drywall dust that blanketed our counters…although his message is totally inappropriate so I’m only posting mine…
Looking back at this uncomfortable time I find it riddled with joy and accomplishment. Especially now, that we are about to do it all over again.