An endless drip, drip, drip, from a leaky faucet and the words of a cranky, nagging wife have the same effect. Can you stop the north wind from blowing or grasp a handful of oil? That’s easier than to stop her from complaining.
Have you ever faced something with excitement and childlike expectation, only to find the experience arduous and spiritually defeating? Well, if you haven’t, go ahead and make a plan to remodel your master bath. I know, very “first-world” talk going on here, but there’s always a lesson in these little buggers. Lord knows Lisa needs to keep learning, even though she entered her 7th decade of life this year. Wow, that looked a lot worse in print than I anticipated. I may need to take a BC powder at this point and reconvene with this write in a few days…
And…I’m back. Yes, I turned 60 this past January. And one would think that after 45 years of walking in the truth of God’s’ Word, I would be much farther down the road than I am today. In fact, I thought I was, but guess what? One tiny, innocent bathroom remodel, one simple shift in my daily comfort zone, and I’ve been sent hurtling back to Sunday School.
Johnny and I had been talking about this project for a few years. We built this house 25 years ago, so you can imagine how dated and tired our bathroom was, complete with a huge garden Jacuzzi tub I never used anymore (lest the fire department would need to be called to extract me), worn out fixtures and wallpaper that had been painted over twice. Throw well water in the mix, and you’ve got a looming disaster. We made a plan to gut the whole thing and start from scratch. My hubs is quite the visionary on graph paper, able to give me a bird’s eye view of his cool idea for a large shower and other ideas for our 75 square feet of future heaven on earth.
Let me back up and say right here that we are not DIY-ers. Johnny is handy in a lot of ways, but remodeling, plumbing, electrical, and carpentry are not among them. He’s more of a get-to-know-the-people-doing-your-work-and-make-sure-they-know-Jesus type of guy. And believe me when I say I have the utmost respect for people who are skilled at these trades. It’s like watching an artist with a blank canvas. I seriously bow my knee to them.
Here’s where the crazy got in.
We met a fellow who had worked on a friend’s home after Hurricane Harvey, and he gave us the best bid, and even better than that, promised the work could be complete in two weeks. (Insert scene from “Money Pit” here)
After 6 weeks of “work” at the speed of lint, our little friend who had only completed about 30% of the job disappeared with his tile saw, never to be seen or heard from again. My guess is that he began to realize he had bitten off more than he could chew and felt it would be pointless to continue to try. We had been paying him small portions of money by the week each Friday, and he split on a Thursday evening, and oh by the way, took a good bit of the materials we had been storing in our garage to pay himself for that week’s work. Meanwhile, our home had become our prison; a dust-covered, choking, sneezing hell hole for me. I walked around muttering nonsense like, “I am so over this. I am so over this. This is ridiculous. I want to jump off a bridge.” More than once I asked Johnny, “Can we just sell the house as is and go by a condo?” I wasn’t kidding. Our front porch looked like Sanford and Sons junk yard, our flowerbeds covered in tile dust and that gray soup the tile saw produces. And in every room of the house were boxes and bags of bathroom belongings and clothing (our closets got new floors). We had moved to the back bedroom because Johnny was literally choking on dust every night, although I was dusting almost daily to try and stem the tide of filth. One day I actually wrote, "Help us, Jesus" in the dust. To top it all off, we had one of the highest energy bills in the history of the world from the front door being left open constantly so workers could schlep in and out as they worked. Bonus!
My husband, who I lovingly refer to as Holy Spirit’s Mini-Me, weathered it all with much more grace than I did (shocker). When something wasn’t looking up to par, I would sputter and curse and cry and go lie down in the dusty hole and he would look for a solution. Grace, grace, grace. Sometime during this journey, I lost my ever-loving mind and began to binge-watch Christmas movies on Hallmark’s “Christmas in July”. I ate my weight in dusty junk one day and had serious inclinations to get into my KIA and run away to Canada. All this to say, I wasn’t “winning.” Constantly on the verge of tears, wrestling with frustration over the circumstance and shame over my discontent, I began to talk to myself out loud—a lot. I could see my marriage wasn’t really “winning” either. My life-partner, my champion, my Jesus with skin on, was tired of hearing me b**** and moan and complain about things that were out of our control. Finally, one day, he said, “Lisa, stop it. You have to stop complaining about what you have no control over. God is in this. It’s going to be okay. Now pull it together, woman.”
I will fast forward to better results. We met a wonderful couple who came and worked like champs for 14 days (TWO WEEKS) and finished the rest of the work.
NOTE: In the middle of their work, their 17-year old was carjacked and beaten, and their home was shot up. One of the assailants was killed by police. They only asked for a few hours off to sleep. Oh my heavens, I wanted to take them all in under my wing and love them through their horrific ordeal. It was a wake-up call for yours truly.
As I write this, my home is put back together, clean as a whistle, and my new bathroom is a retreat from this crazy life now. Is it worth the umpteen thousands of dollars spent? I don’t know about that. But I believe I’m finally wrapping my peanut head around the truth that happiness doesn’t lie in beautiful things; it lies in the knowledge that my home is a safe haven for me and mine, and that God, whose ways I will never be able to fathom in this lifetime, loves me more than I will ever deserve or understand. I heard a Bible teacher once say, "You will get the same test over and over until you pass it. Good news is, it's an open book test."
I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.
Post script: Johnny and I made an immediate decision to forgive the fellow who wronged us. It just isn't worth our peace and joy to walk in unforgiveness. Blessings to him and his future endeavors.