Tearing Down and Building Up

When we bought our house, there was a room that looked like this:

An addition to the house, it had old, uglier than ugly linoleum, a mushroom/jellyfish randomly painted on the wall, a dangerous looking gas space heater, and a smell that photos don’t do justice.

But it had potential. Amazing potential. A brick wall, a nice sized closet, and a row of windows overlooking our massive (untended) backyard. Its future is our art/sewing/craft room. It will be a place where all three of us can give our creative spirits freedom.

We’re pros at changing the surfaces of our homes. Walls, floors, cabinets, countertops; we’ve done it all. We planned on scraping up the linoleum and if the floors beneath were salvageable, refinishing them; if not, then we’d put down some new wood floors. Pretty simple, right? Yep.

Except after a day of pulling up linoleum, the room looked like this:

Because when we tried to remove the linoleum, we discovered it was glued to plywood. So we pulled up the plywood. And then we started noticing how unlevel the floor seemed to be. Then we thought, why don’t we pull up one of these boards and see what it looks like underneath.

And now, here we are without a floor.

The support beams were barely holding up the room. Seriously, they weren’t touching. There was a half inch of space between each board with a single nail bridging the gap. And beneath those beams were piles of dirt and junk that instead of being cleaned out, had been sealed in.

What began as redecorating has become rebuilding.

As my husband labors away with crowbars and saws and hammers and nails, I think this room is an example of something bigger.

How often do we notice that some part of us, our compassion, our generosity, our budget, our patience, our hope, our faith, our health, needs a little cleaning up? We see how worn that part of our life is looking. We see the stains and the tears and the dirt. We smell the stench. And we decide to redecorate. How hard can it be?

All we need is a little spring cleaning. A retreat, a gym membership, a commitment to reading the Bible daily instead of weekly, a donation to a charity.

But once we get started, we discover that what we thought was a surface level issue goes much deeper. Splitting and splintering. Buckling and bowing. It’s an unstable structure. Pieces intended to strengthen are instead weakening. We see the places where we took shortcuts, the times we settled for good enough, the anger and the guilt and the sin that we swept under the foundation and built upon.

I have thought more than once, “Let’s just put the linoleum back. We’ll pretend like we haven’t seen any of this. Surely, if it lasted so long in this condition, it’ll make it a little longer.”

But why live that way? Why spend each day praying the facade holds?

I wonder how many of us tiptoe through an area of our lives because in our hearts we know it can’t support the weight of truth.

We never planned to rebuild a room of our house. Demolition is dirty. The physical labor is exhausting. Storing that room’s belongings elsewhere is inconvenient.

But it’s all worth it.

Because a day is coming when we won’t walk with caution. Knowing what’s beneath us, being confident in our foundation, we will dance recklessly across those floors.

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2 Comments to “Tearing Down and Building Up”

  1. LOVED this!!! I always love the blog but I really loved this one! such a cool (and true) comparison. Cant wait to see the actual room when you finish it! 🙂

  2. You are so right. The rewards are worth the hard work.

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