In 2013, my husband and I began a serious renovation project. Our 40+ year old home was in dire need of being rescued from its 1970’s design and we were looking forward to bringing our sacred living space into the current decade. Our excitement morphed into exhaustion after discovering the importance of contractor integrity and planning for the unexpected. Months after the original completion date — I vowed to never take part in another remodeling project.
Yet, here we are in 2022, and another season of renovations, in the same home no less, has begun.
You know what they say, “Want to make God laugh? Tell ‘Him’ your plans.”*
Admittedly, this project is necessary. The original work from 2013 ended disastrously - and incomplete (again contractor integrity, or rather, lack thereof — choose wisely, people!). We decided that we would just live with the inconveniences and chalk it up as experience. However, a house approaching 50 years old will inevitably need some TLC. As groundwater found its way into the subtle cracks in our foundation, we knew it was time to finish what should have been completed nine years ago.
The water remediation would be a huge undertaking, requiring us to move completely out of the lower level of our home in order for the team to have access to all areas of the basement. That alone has turned into a weeks-long project. Some of the items stored down there hadn’t been touched in years. Such is the story of a 25+ year marriage, children, then grandchildren and all our pets. I packed up countless keepsakes for sentimental value or “just in case” I ever needed them again.
As much as this needs to be done, the timing of it — if I may be so blunt — just sucks. Plopped right in the middle of high moments of loss and sorrow, sprinkled with a few family crises, and some major writing deadlines for upcoming workshops…packing, sorting and moving added a great deal of stress on an already overloaded schedule. Even when I paused for breath and recognized the “goodness” arriving — an opening in the contractors’ packed schedule, the finances available to restore our home, and the prospect of finally finishing it in a way that makes it useful and lovable — I still wondered why all of these things seem to be happening at once.
Just tell God your plans. And, boy, did I have plans! I had spent the entire day mapping every hour of the next few months to determine how much time I needed each day to dedicate to high priority and time sensitive assignments. It was all doable if I stayed focused and kept to this schedule. Then, I walked out of my office and literally came face-to-face with God’s laughter. As water slowly inched its way out from the corners of the room, I knew all the planning I had just finished was going right out the window.
It happens this way, doesn’t it? We have plans for life, then life gets in the way of those plans. The reality is, we often ignore things that need attention, hoping they’ll sort of just disappear or at the very least, become less urgent.
It’s not as if we didn’t know the water was there. We had seen the swollen wooden trim along the floor’s edge for some time. “We’ll get to that someday,” we’d muse. That someday came blasting toward us in a slow, ominous stream as if to say, “You can’t ignore me any longer.”
You can’t ignore me any longer. And so it goes — a period of disruption that will lead to the completion of a home in disrepair for 9 years. A home that desperately needed to address the cracks in its foundation to ensure its viability in the future. A home that needed attention to become a sacred space for all who entered.
We wanted to believe that the cracks weren’t there. We wanted to believe that we were ok with substandard work that created chaos in what should have been a safe harbor for our family. We wanted to believe that in spite of its flaws, we could live like this.
I now laugh along with God as I see the arrogance in my assumptions and the ignorance in my refusal to see the truth.
The truth is, cracks in any foundation will always lead to chaos. Brokenness in any system will always lead to someone being harmed. And being in the company of corruption — be they contractors, businessmen, church-goers or politicians — will always allow the corrupt to remain in power.
And those of us stupid enough to believe that things will be ok, will lose.
So, I dive into demolishing what was broken… to repair the foundation and ensure its strength… and restore the home to make it a safe and sacred space for all.
This story is also about America.
*The phrase uses the masculine description for God - one that I vehemently disagree with, but to honor the original phrase. God is formless, genderless, universal, mystical. No words can ever describe. No human can ever understand.
She said those words during our podcast recording. We had just spent the last hour together in a conversation that was so comfortable, as if we’d known each other a lifetime. Perhaps our souls did, because there was an ease in which we navigated heavy topics about the tension that now exists in this country, the challenges of peeling away indoctrinated layers of belief, and the desire to find ‘your people’ when you’ve lost your spiritual community.