Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dealing with the Messy Spots

In November I noticed a couple of spots on my dining room and foyer ceilings. I planned on a quick and easy cover up before the holidays--a bit of flat white ceiling paint at best and a small tub of spackle at worst. But, of course, it wasn't that easy.

My house was built in 1950. The ceilings are plaster. They get lumpy, bumpy and crumbly. Repairing them correctly is a dusty, messy all day job. My efficiency-loving self sighed in resignation. I wasn't up for the hassle and decided to ignore it during the already busy holidays.

The holidays brought plenty of distraction via a busy schedule and festive home adornments. Each time I walked through that part of the house I tried to look at other things. I wanted to pretend the problem didn't exist, because acknowledging it meant dealing with it and I didn't want the mess. As I packed up the Christmas decorations the lumpy bumpy ceiling seemed to mock me. I am part of the infrastructure of your house. Are you going to continue to avert your eyes every time you walk through? When are you going to deal with me? 

Ignoring it had postponed, not solved the problem. So, yesterday I welcomed a couple of workers into my home to deal with this yucky spot. I was busy in another part of the house, but when I came in to check on the progress I gasped.

Dealing with this relatively small ceiling spot had impacted 4 rooms of my home.  Furniture was moved, drop cloths were placed, rugs were covered. What a mess! Furthermore, a closer look had revealed other areas that needed repair. Why does it have to be so complicated?

I was reminded of a fundamental truth of repairing and restoring...you generally have to make a big mess before things can get any better. Whether you are cleaning out a purse, a refrigerator or a basement there is a lot of unpacking before you can make progress. Things seem to look a lot worse before the restoration can begin.

And the same is true of relationships.

I felt the Lord tugging on my heart regarding a tender conversation my husband and I were currently working through. So much of me wanted to treat this little place in our marriage like that spot in the ceiling. It's really just a small thing. I'm tired and not in the mood to deal with the mess that might come from a closer examination. What if it reveals more junk? Lord, can't I just keep focusing on all the other perfectly lovely parts? 

My heart knew the answer. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, face the mess and do the work.

By 4pm order had been restored in my home and my relationship is making great progress too.

Maintenance is required to preserve beauty and structural soundness in everything of value.To ignore it is folly--eventually the truth will come out as things begin to crumble. May we not be so fearful of a little messiness that we miss the bigger picture.

As I took the after photo of the house this morning I was reminded of something else: When you see order in other people's lives it is foolish to believe it has always been (or will always be). Sometimes there has been a patching/whitewashing for the sake of appearance--and other times there may have been major reconstruction. It is generally not our business to know.

Instead of trying to dissect the appearances of other people's lives, we are advised to keep an eye on the homes, hearts and lives God has given us to steward. May we be wise enough to examine them and courageous enough to deal with them--willing to do the work with grace and love.


-J said...

what I needed to read this morning ... after a "tender conversation" with my husband, too. Thank you!

Blair said...

Beautiful and so insightful as well! AMEN!

Denise Ross said...

Insightfully and honest. Thoughts to ponder in my own life. Thank you :)