The past two weeks, my parents and their dog, Lacey Kay, have been visiting from Iowa. Their next stop is warm and sunny Florida. We get to dog-sit.
One of the things I love about my parent’s visits is all the things on my “honey-do” list that get done in a very short time. Whether it’s broken plumbing, electrical fixtures, or furniture – my dad is ready, willing and able to go to work. One thing my dad excels at is fixing the peeling paint on my walls and ceilings. It isn’t the first time he’s had to do this. Apparently, when the house was first built, the contractor decided to skip a step and not use primer on the newly hung drywall before painting. Since then, in certain places all over the house, the paint bubbles, cracks and peels in very unattractive ways.
In order to fix these problem areas, the offending paint has to be removed, the patches skimmed with several thin layers of drywall compound, which is then left to dry and sanded. All that has to happen before the patches are primed and re-painted – which winds up being the easiest part of the whole process.
As I said in this space last week, preparation is often the most difficult, but most important task. Without the proper preparation, anything that is done will likely be superficial and need to be repaired again. When it comes to the walls and ceilings of my home, I am grateful to have someone patient and skilled enough to do it right – even if it wasn’t done right the first time.
Of course, there’s a lesson here for our lives, as well. Most of us don’t escape childhood and youth unscathed. We carry certain wounds, neurosis and weak spots that can surface in destructive ways later in life. These can take the form of addictions, relationship problems and mental illness (to name a few of the biggies). Oftentimes, there’s no telling where those problems will surface. Because certain issues weren’t worked through properly the first time, they will return again and again (often in disguise) until they are resolved. Avoiding the issues (which tends to lead to the symptoms above), or superficially painting over them just doesn’t do the trick.
Fortunately, we have a heavenly father who is also patient and skilled. We have a God who majors in healing and “human repair.” In his presence, old wounds can be exposed, cleaned and healed. With his help issues that may have seemed insurmountable before are resolved. Ultimately we are left with a healthy, beautiful finish (and perhaps a few scars).
Don’t avoid doing the difficult work of dealing with the rough spots in your life – and don’t settle for a superficial fix, either. Come and join others in the community of the church where we are all making this journey together. Come and join us during this Lenten season as we do the difficult work of confession and repentance (exposing and cleaning out those bad spots) in preparation for the glorious new life promised to us by the Risen Christ. I look forward to seeing you there – peeling paint and all.