We sat on the porch of their beach house, painting. My grandfather, master woodworker, had made me a beautiful trashcan to go in my big-girl room. It was just a bin for used tissues and clothing tags, but because he made it, it was crafted with supreme care. The quality wood would last for decades. But, because it was indeed a trashcan, they let me, the enthusiastic helper, learn how to paint it.
“Up, down. Up, down.” Granddaddy guided, his larger hand on mine as I grasped the brush and the illusion of power. I laughed and looked at his trustworthy eyes instead of the white paint, replying “ALL AROUND!” His first granddaughter, I surely shocked the man who had raised three boys. Our hands shook with my giggles and he patiently replied, “Up, down.”
I knelt on the old navy blue sheet spread across the back deck of the home I grew up in. “Up, down.” I muttered to myself, staring at the dresser my granddaddy had made to go with the trashcan. I’m preparing to move to my big-girl condo in the city. So I’m painting the pink and purple knobs black. I’ve bought a futon, a table and four chairs, an arm chair, three beds, and dressers from yard sales and Craigslist.
The process has made me look at wood differently. I see pieces of furniture with renewed appreciation. Sweltering in the Georgia summer that refuses to yield to autumn’s breezes, I’ve wondered if the patience is worth it.
But it is fun to see the transition from dirty and broken to beautiful and abounding in purpose. And I haven’t been alone in the process. My mom, with her fantastic bargaining skills, has found most of the pieces of furniture and gracefully discussed their potential in a way that made me want to believe in them too. She’s driven to the questionable areas to pile beds and mattresses into her minivan. My dad has paraded furniture down the street with me. He always offers to go backwards as we carry arm chairs and beds (still fully put together), barefoot down the familiar path. My parents have let me learn to do these projects by myself. Offering assistance and endless support, they’ve also let me make my own mistakes. We call my granddaddy with questions. And many friends offer beautiful opinions, encouragement, and even assistance along the way. Even my puppy has attentively helped in her attempts to lick away every fresh coat of polyurethane.
I’m creating a home, table leg by futon cover and memory by memory, that displays the best story in every bit of furniture. I find myself relating very well to the furniture. Pride and doubt swirl like the thoughts of a discarded yard sale table. ‘I’m not good enough, no one will ever want me’ trapezes to ‘they don’t understand me because I have more experience than them,’ in instances where defense is my reaction instead of faith.
It isn’t until someone brave decided I’m worth it that these rough parts of me begin to release as I let myself be sanded away and made new. This is the work of the Father alone. The carpenter’s stepson (the Creator’s son) allowed His hands to be pierced with nails that, with His obedience, would hold him to a cross until he died. On that rough piece of wood, He gave up so much more than the thirty dollars I’m spending at yard sales. He gave up everything.
So when I admitted my belief and confessed my failures, He picked me up and declared me worthy not because of anything I would or would not too, but only because He was worthy. He teaches me the beautiful lesson of grace every day. In patience and love, He teaches me even as the lessons that scrub away my self-inflicted grime sometimes feel like they hurt. It’s a series of intentional direct lines, and I want to add my all-arounds. He offers me purpose and a plan and surrounds me with a legacy of faith and a life of friends to encourage me through the journey when I doubt that purpose and lose my way. And, one day, He’ll carry me home to the home he’s prepared for me. And if I feel like I’ve spent so much time preparing a home, then I truly can’t begin to grasp how splendid this home that He’s spent eternity preparing will truly be.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed us to the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-21