Updated: Apr 10
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was bursting with that spring energy that says, "Clean, fix, change!" Why don't I just paint those plantation shutters in my den white? First day of spring break two weeks ago and it was no break at all. My plantation shutters, then a sun-stained pine, have narrow slats and itsy-bitsy hardware. The kind of paint job that drives one to drink. It's really just like me to start a vacation with such an undertaking. And so I did. Halfway through, I was wanting to lie down, mildly woozy on 24 empty cans of white spray paint and still-imperfect shutters. But I dug deep and finished. I love, love, love, the result and as if on cue, God got me the unexpected bargain of the century on pretty coral-adorned curtains, fulfilling my vision. On this side of the project, I'm so glad I soldiered on and got 'er done. Home improvement can be like that. So can life.
Just as I hung the curtains, I got another brain child: I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets white and to replace all the hardware. Between Lowes and Amazon, I got the last of the supplies yesterday, scheduled Bill-the-handyman to affix the handles later in the week as a target, and am ready to go on the tasks I feel competent and inclined to do.
Or am I?
Having lingered in bed reading for an unusually long time this Palm Sunday morning, I just finished today's edition of Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper, an uplifting, reflective email. Today's note was about "A Whole New Normal" in which she talks about Holy Week as a prompt for a reset. After all, Easter is the ultimate new beginning.
Now, I have been saying all along that Covid and quarantine and unexpected deaths and civil unrest and wonky weather and bitter election contention and all that are prompts for a hard reset of the cosmic variety. Like Maria, I fear the illusion of any version of "normalcy" will prevent us from heeding the most urgent messages of the past twelve months, which bodes only for more lessons sooner or later. More opportunities to regroup or reboot.
Fact is, this notion that this past year signals the need for a shift in the cosmic consciousness is not novel. Many voices have been echoing the same themes over and over, from various worldviews and perspectives.
Anyway, I digress. Back to my kitchen.
So, as I mentally outlined my day this morning, I started to second-guess my plan to embark on the kitchen project, envisioning my cupboard barefaced and exposed for a full week while my kids and I paint. The general untidy-ness of home improvements underway, the at-once gentle and jarring yet promising chaos on the way to something fresh, new and good. I felt that rising anxiety in my belly and was resolving to bag the whole thing when I had the sporadic wisdom to pray.
Even after a long, long time on a spiritual path, I forget that I can consult The Handyman of the Universe with absolutely any question at all. He cares about every detail of my life.
And so I did.
YES! paint the kitchen cabinets, one step at a time. On the way, you'll enjoy the immediate gratification of painting, the empowerment of physical labor and tinkering that comes while wielding screwdriver, hammer and brush, the bonding pleasure of working alongside your sons, the affirmation of doing a lot of it alone as they peter out and head back to dad's. By Easter, you'll have a beautiful, bright new kitchen that you will absolutely love and it will all be done by the very day that Christ Himself offered all the world a fresh new beginning of the best kind, if only we'd just believe.
Consulting God, I also recognized that the dread--a more subtle and insidious version of fear--is what made me hesitate. And honestly, I don't want to have anything to do with fear anymore. It has nearly killed me. I realized that particular feeling was actually about the chaos of my childhood. The wildly unpredictably mess that swirled about me for much of my youngster years. A mess over which I was utterly powerless and which never showed signs of abating.
Home improvement messes, although admittedly uncomfortable for a tidy person like me who enjoys visual harmony, are just a little piece of road on the way to wonderful. In this disorder, I have the power to paint promptly between coats, or sit in my living room away from the mayhem, or seize the chance to clean out my cabinets in the spirit of the season. I may have a few moments over the next five days before the handyman comes--my self-imposed hard deadline--when I wonder what I got myself into. This, too, shall pass.
Then, a week from now, I'll behold my fresh new kitchen with joy and wonder. "We did it!" I'll be relieved, gratified, grateful and proud. I know this because I've done a few home improvement projects in the past. I've done a few self-improvement projects, too. They have a lot in common.
The steps to a new beginning can seem overwhelming at the onset or the in-between. The ensuing mess can be disheartening and cause us to doubt our path or our ability to handle it. We can lose sight of the vision that inspired us to undertake the journey to begin with.
That's OK. We can feel all that and still keep going.
We can ask for help.
We can ask for strength to carry-on, to keep doing the next thing, until we get to the fresh new thing we were hoping for.
Then, at the other side of the project, we can enjoy the fruits of our labors, and thank the ultimate Fixer-Upper for his help in sprucing us up. Or giving the den or the kitchen a fresh new look, just in time for Easter, the best new beginning ever.
And once again, I’m sharing my handy Debriefing 2020 Tool to help 😘.
Happy Holy Week. I hope you'll consider reading up on what happened this week in history for inspiration for your journey.
And remember: He loves you no matter what.
Love, peace, joy and grace,