My husband calls me a serial hobbiest. In other words, my hobby is collecting hobbies. I have a bad habit of starting crafty or creative projects and never actually finishing them. For instance, right now I have a few projects sitting around unfinished:
- Monthly Crochet Blanket – I have every month’s package anxiously awaiting to be opened but I only got through the first three months or so….starting this time last year. However, I did work on it for about a half hour a few nights ago. Maybe there is hope??? Justin doesn’t think so.
- Felt Busy Book – originally, I think I started this for my oldest neice’s 2nd or 3rd birthday….she is now about to turn 6. I have had two more nieces since then and I always say I’m doing it for one of them when I pick it back up randomly and work on it for a few days. Realistically, not one of my beautiful nieces will actually see the thing….but hopefully my friends keep having babies so I can eventually gift it! Ha!
- Organizing pretty much any room in the house….they are all at different stages…
- Hanging pictures/decor – even though we have been in the house for a year at this point, there are still things I haven’t hung yet. And they are patiently waiting in the corner of the dining room collecting dust… **shortly after writing this post, I DID get everything hung with the help of my lovely husband**
- Refinishing an old foot board/bench/dresser thing that was left in our old basement – I started sanding it a
weekmonth ago – haven’t touched it since…
- Door project for our basement – yes, we are turning multiple old doors into a wall (or 3) – Justin’s job is the actual wall building. I have to do the prep work on the doors we have managed to salvage at auctions and yard sales. I’ve actually been pretty diligent about this one and I only have three and a half doors left. But it looks like our warm weather is only going to last the next two days…so I better get to work….oh wait, I would rather be writing…
But that’s where the chipped paint comes in. God is funny about the things He uses to remind us of life’s lessons. Tonight, as I scraped paint off of an old door – slowly achieving the chippy paint look I want, He used that process to exemplify how He works in our lives.
Chipping paint, without a stripper, is interesting work. Especially when there are three or four layers on top of the beautiful, original wood. Some paint areas comes off without any problems. I could practically blow on it and watch it flake, but other areas need some more convincing. Sometimes I just have to use the better paint scraper. Other times, I need to push a little harder. And some areas just need you to come at it from a different angle. But through it all – I have to be cautious to not damage the wood face that lies beneath the paint – I want to maintain its beauty.
I think God looks at us this way. He can see the beauty beneath all the layers of paint that have hardened over the years. Some of that paint we put there ourselves, trying to cover our own messes. Some of the paint was left by others – shaping us to what they saw fit or even over splash from some of their own messy repainting.
No matter how many layers of paint, no matter who put them there, God is determined to reveal who we were truly made to be. Sometimes that’s easy – the layers of paint flake off with ease. But, more often than not, God has to use a little elbow grease to get underneath that paint. He has to push us past our comfort, move in ways we weren’t expecting. And that can be painful! When we’re extremely stubborn, sometimes He has to approach it at a different angle, or multiple angles, to get that hard, old paint to chip away.
Without the metaphor – what does this actually look like? The sin that almost all of us deal with is pride, right? In fact, if we’re being honest, pride is the root of most sin. And pride can be tough to uncover – it masquerades as other things – anger, control, shame, and so much more. God desperately wants to rid us of that pride. So He gently nudges the obvious signs. But when that doesn’t work, as Proverbs 16:18 says, pride goeth before the fall (yeah, I went a little KJV there…my bad…). He will often hand us over to our own problems and let us “learn the hard way.” Maybe that looks like losing a promotion or making the headlines in a not so positive way. But sometimes that angle still doesn’t get the root of your pride. It stubbornly sticks around, so God has to try a different angle, maybe one that will hurt a bit more (therefore, waking you up). This time, the fall that comes doesn’t just harm you – but it harms those around you – your spouse, your children a business partner….the list goes on. They begin to be affected, very obviously, by the pride you have been dealing with. He allows our own actions to lead to the consequences that will wake us up. Now, because of their pain, you allow that pride to slowly chip away.
He can finally chip off that last stubborn layer of paint and expose the beauty of who you were meant to be. The best part about His process, though, is that He won’t hurt the beauty that lies beneath. Not in the least. His desire is to restore that beauty, render the masterpiece undamaged, unique, and as it was always created to be. Yeah, we’re going to feel some pain in the process – but it’s the kind of pain that leaves you better in the end.
Side illustration – I recently cut my finger pretty badly in the process of chopping cabbage. Typically, that’s dealt with at home. But it would NOT stop bleeding. Unfortunately, I ended up at the urgent care. While I, thankfully, avoided stitches, they had to sterilize the wound and then glue it closed. As the PA preps the swab for sterilization (preventing infection) he warns me that it will sting. Okay, sure – I grew up in the era of peroxide and iodine fixing every scrape, scratch, and blister. No big deal. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, when he applied the swab, I almost swore (which is not something I usually do)! The pain was intense and immeasurably more than I had anticipated. But that pain was intended for my good.
Just as some of the pain that is allowed in your life, is ultimately intended for your good.
Yeah, the chipping paint metaphor isn’t perfect. But as I sat and chipped away at the paint on probably the tenth door in the past few weeks, it reminded me of how stubborn I can be, how unwilling I am to learn the lessons He has for me. Control issues? He has come at that in almost every angle imaginable and yet I still struggle, I still don’t want to let the residual paint chips go. Somehow, I think that last bit of paint makes me better. But He knows that it’s covering up who He made me to be. With that paint left, I’m only a fraction of what He intends.
And He has SO much more for me than I could ever imagine.
I’m also willing to bet that I have more layers of paint than I care to admit. But I’m ready to let Him do the hard work in my life to reveal what is waiting beneath.
Even when it hurts..
P.S. Don’t forget – there is beauty in the process!! After all – I’m about to put a dozen or so chippy paint doors on my basement wall. The process….it definitely has a vibe!