There is depth to a house. The outside may be soiled, ugly and rundown. Or it may have a perfectly manicured lawn, with a pretty wreath on the front door beckoning visitors inside (I notice such houses when I walk my dog). Upon entering a house we see not only its furnishings, but its character in the molding, windows, flooring and other details making it unique.
During our search to find the house we wanted to buy, I realized the importance of curb appeal (remember those houses that seem to beckon passers by?). I learned quickly that just because a house does possess curb appeal, I may not be interested in its depth (what’s inside) and vice versa.
So there we stood that chilly January day, in a house that had been vacant for at least a year. The heat wasn’t on and I could see my breath while standing in the living room. But there it was: character looked us straight in the face with its ‘true Yankee feel,’ as our realtor called it (meaning if something wasn’t broken no previous owner fixed it). It had a real fireplace and more than one bathroom, two characteristics that quickly bring charm (and can be hard to come by, at least the latter)….especially in January.
Over two months later, my husband and I became homeowners for the first time and moved in that weekend. This year, our house will be 90 years old. Being a ‘true Yankee’ house, it needed some serious TLC. The past eight months have taught us a lot, but one thing stands out when I look at the exposed ceiling beams in our living room (the result of a leaking pipe in the bathroom that was discovered in the second month of living there) or the kitchen that’s in the process of being remodeled, I am reminded that what’s on the outside isn’t nearly as important as what’s on the inside.
In home renovation, when we need or want to fix something, we have to open up the area and expose the problem or even find the problem before we can attempt to fix it, at least if we want to really fix it.
When we started our kitchen renovation, we stripped the room down to studs. We had to do a lot of work before we could renovate. Demolition is dirty. We started by removing the cupboards, sink, counters, three layers of linoleum flooring, and lathe and plaster walls in order to insulate the exterior walls. Then we had to rebuild the kitchen, putting up sheet rock, installing cabinets, counters, etc. It was not a quick process, and honestly is not complete yet (we still have to put down permanent flooring and counters, plus paint the walls).
We’re digging deep in the renovation process. Sure, we could have skipped the part where we ripped up three layers of flooring or opted not to strip the room down to studs. But it would be more of a band-aid if we went that route. Given the work that we’ve done thus far, there have been several band-aid type owners previously. They fixed the problem cosmetically, but not internally. A room may appear to be put together, but important steps were missed (the electrical wiring is a nightmare, just to give an example).
As a Christ-follower, my life isn’t any different. I like things to appear ‘together.’ I mean, as if I have it together and on the outside, things often do look that way to passers by. But if someone saw what’s on the inside (my thoughts) at times, they’d quickly learn I am a bigger wreck than my house!
As much as I want to band-aid issues in my life with a quick prayer or read a favorite Bible passage I know will bring me comfort, so I can move on to the next thing, I know it’s not going to renew and sustain me long-term. The truth is I do more damage by taking a deep breath and plastering a fake smile on my face than when I deal with the ugly stuff in life. There are walls in my heart that need to come down.
I need to be willing to do the things that get to the root of my sin in order to change so I can be more Christ-like. To soak in God’s word and meditate on Him. To need community, people to hold me accountable in my life. To take time away from the busyness of life, ditch the computer, mobile and other distractions. I am aware of my need for a renovation just as much as my 90 year old house.
I have the courage to deal with the ugliness because Christ was laid bare, exposed when He died for our sin that we might reap the benefits of his sacrifice on our behalf. Being so, we are a new creation in Christ, “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” 2 Corinthians 5:17. So, rather than working on my own curb appeal (making my life appear pretty), I will allow God to gut the areas that need to go because Christ allows us to look into the darkness and remodel our lives from the inside out.
Where would you start your internal renovations?