I visited someone from church yesterday who’s living through an extensive home renovation. My ex-wife and her husband, they too have finally begun their long-awaited renovation.
Having — almost a year ago (believe it or not) — finished my renovation of a building that I had bought as a shell, I don’t envy either family. But I’ve even been in my house long enough to have torn off some sheetrock and made a dusty mess too. A less complete renovation when you are living in the house is always more difficult.
My younger son, Simon, had taken to referring to his mother’s plans to redo the house as “The Great Renovation,” likening it to “The Great Tribulation,” a surprisingly Evangelical allusion for that boy! He was drawing the parallel around the agita engendered in the period proceeding the tumult, and how that waiting period seemed to be interminable, leaving everyone asking, “Will it ever happen?”
An architect friend of mine — a woman — once compared a renovation to childbirth. (It might be interesting to get our new mothers and our renovators together to discuss!) I think my architect-friend’s major comparison was: intense pain is forgotten shortly after it is over in light of the joyful results that come of the suffering. Otherwise, there’d be a lot more only children and shabby houses in this world!
But another friend who’s redoing a building from the beams in Templetown, said to me recently that he finds renovation more like war. I think this indicates that he and his contractor devolved quickly to a tense, even pugnacious stand-off.
But he points to other similarities as well. Endless planning and worry go into both. And inevitable casualties — no matter how carefully you strategize; how detailed the battle plan; or how well thought through all the contingencies, it won’t work out as planned. And worse, a few things will blow up in your face.
There will be unexpected refugees (your living room furniture crowed in the bedroom or someone sleeping on the couch for three months). And no “campaign,” however carefully worked out ahead of time, proceeds without a breakdown in the supply chain. Something you had to have is always missing, out of stock, back-ordered, no longer available!
And taking the larger view, you have to lose a few battles to win the war (like life itself). At the time, those defeats can seem like the end of the world. They cost more, and the whole thing takes longer than you ever expected or were ready for. Post-traumatic stress disorder can ensue (and be treated!)…
But I have learned that the whole endeavor never would have worked out as well were it not for the unexpected, often at the time unpleasant surprises. In my experience, those intermediate disappointments often lead to solutions that are better than what you had planned — could have planned — in the first place!
I once compared our Covenant Ministry and revitalization to a renovation while we are living in the home. I never compared it to a war!
This Sunday is Pentecost. In the sermon, I’ll be comparing the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) with the Holy Spirit’s Miracle of Many Tongues (Acts 2:1-13). It turns out that everything displaced and disordered according to God’s will — though much more disorienting — is preferable and leads to better solutions than the most orderly endeavors and brick by brick human building projects.
Hope to see you in church, even as the dust flies! Until then, “Hold on, beloved; we’ll get through it! And when the dust settles, be better for it –having recognized how God can stretch and reorganize our lives in ways that we could never could have done on our own.”
See you Sunday,