Friday, 29 March 2013

The small miracle of lessons learned

We are painting.

If you live anywhere in the vicinity or follow me on Facebook or work with me, you are groaning  now. One of my co-workers said, "Please! No more painting stories."

One of the problems is that it's a big area. Living room, dining room, hall up to and including the front door, up the stairs and the upstairs hallway are all painted the same.

And have been for 20 year. That's another problem. The style was definitely 80s ("old lady" was my husband's comment) and needed not only refreshing but updating. It was dark and gloomy.

A third problem is that we both work full time, have a puppy and can only attack it in fits and starts. So we lived for 6 weeks with our furniture in the middle of the floor and chaos ensuing.

We are half way to the finish line. Living room and dining room is finished, the furniture has been put back in place and I staged a cleaning intervention. We are making arrangements to move the piano to my daughter's house, and someday soon, a lovely fireplace will go in its place. Of course, one project leads to another, and we decided we need new doors and a hardwood floor. Visions of dollar signs dance in my head, but I keep reminding myself that it's many years since anything has been spent on the house. It's time.

I've learned some lessons while painting. While I was reflecting on these, I noticed similarities to lessons I learned recently in my life through another painful experience. (Because painting has been painful, I assure you.) The time between when I decided I wanted to marry again and when I met my husband was a painful time of learning as well.

Things I learned from painting and dating:

1. It gets worse before it gets better.  In painting, you make a huge mess preparing the walls, and first coats don't look great, either. It takes a few finished walls, with drips and touch-ups done, to start to feel like you're getting somewhere.

I went through many difficult situations in dating. I met 17 scammers over a year's time, and a few I didn't recognise as such right away, and I got hurt. I got led on and dropped, spoken to abusively, and just disappointed. It hurt, and the loneliness I felt when I started got worse.

2. There are times you think you're getting nowhere. The living room had a wallpaper border in the middle of the wall. It wasn't a large area or a large border, and I didn't anticipate the anguish it would take to remove it. Three days of scraping, washing, peeling tiny fragments, scraping again, washing again and finally rinsing brought it down, but during that time I shed a few tears of frustration. I've taken down wallpaper before, but nothing like this.

How many times can you have your hopes dashed before you loose your nerve? I cried out to the Lord many times, because I was afraid I wouldn't have the courage to try again. I put "trust" verses all over my fridge and read them daily. Jer. 29:11 was my anchor. "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." Through each disappointment, I would ask Him for the future and the hope. I held onto His promise, but many times I felt despair.

3. It's hard work. Our sore shoulders will attest to that in relation to painting.
Jumping into the dating pool after 30 years of marriage and four years of widowhood was incredibly difficult. I agonised over the decision and sought the counsel of friends. Infinitely harder, though, was to pick myself up and try again after many disappointments. And then to do it again. And again.

4. It's worth it. Even though the job is only half done, the room looks different. It is brighter, more contemporary, and ours. Each change makes it more ours, and that's exciting.

After almost a year of marriage, I still feel incredible joy. We know God brought us together at the perfect time for both of us. We appreciate what we have, and don't take a day for granted. Dating had it's up times and many devastating low times, but in the end, God answered our prayers.

I am thankful.

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