Make the Hole Bigger, and Eventually, It Disappears: Finding God in the Kitchen Renovation

 

This has been a beautiful summer. The kids think it’s been boring, but if this is boring, I don’t think anything could satisfy them.

We’ve been to Michigan. We spent a couple weeks with siblings and cousins at Mom and Dad’s. We had about a week of rest. And my husband has renovated our kitchen.

He began over a year ago, milling boards of quarter sawn white oak for our floor. He cut tongue and groove into each one, stacking the pile in his work shop to rest until the appropriate time.

For a long time the only visible signs of change in our house were 100 yards away in his work shop. We still had dilapidated blue cabinets in our kitchen, and a man-sized hole in the floor, with a sheet of ply wood slapped over it to prevent children and guests from falling into the crawlspace. We stepped over that hole for two years.

I kept asking my husband, “How are you going to fix this? I don’t see how you’re going to secure a good patch that won’t warp or make the subfloor uneven.” And he was vague on what solution he had in mind, until the day he and his brother took the crowbar to the entire floor, making the hole larger and larger, until nothing remained of it. The hole, along with the entire subfloor was gone.

photo-462I always feel so much fear when my husband starts a project of this magnitude, even though he’s proven himself again and again. Years ago, at our old house I planned to host a bridal shower for my cousin, and in passing the day before, I said something about how I wished our bathroom were different. Before I knew it, he and his brother, were hammering the wall with crowbars, removing layers of cedar paneling that made the bathroom look like a sauna from the eighties.

Of course, I was terrified that there would be no toilet there in the morning, when twenty women were coming to eat cake and possibly powder their noses in that, our one and only bathroom.

By morning however, I had not only a toilet, but fresh white bead board on the walls, a new floor and sink, in short, an entirely renovated bathroom.

The kitchen has been no different. Transition from the old to the new required a major demolition, but the new has surpassed my expectations in every way.

I suppose the soul works in a similar way when it’s transitioning from one way of being to another.

God says, “Do you trust me enough to fix you? Do you really want to be healed? If so, I’m not just going to patch things up again. That’s the fix of fear, the fix of limitations. It’s temporary. In time everything warps around the foundation and starts caving in again. If you really want to be well, I’m going to have to rip out your heart and give you a new one.”

My heart has been set on many things. It follows every light, every open door, but there is no home in exile. And every time I discover this anew, I feel hardened where old scars have calcified. But my heart is still flesh. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t believe I’ve been ruined. And I don’t know that those who have missed or mistaken God’s will and desire in their lives are nothing but scar tissue. They’re flesh too.

What I believe is that in Christ we die and awaken with a new and rejuvenated heart. Nothing is left of the old one. His cure for a broken or calcified heart is to destroy it, and replace it with something fresh and new, but only if you’re willing to undergo demolition day.

The trick, I think is believing in the plan to come. God has already been preparing a new place for you, a new life. He’s been milling up the boards for a new foundation for a long time. He has already drawn up the plans. And if you can let go of the dilapidated old cabinets that you really secretly hate, because they’re not working for you at all, they’re overcrowded and off balance, and the doors keep falling off, if you could let them go, you’d be scared by the demolition, maybe even put out by it for a time, before God surprises you with something beautiful.

About Elizabeth Duffy

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