Tim and I have a love-hate relationship with old houses. The first house we ever bought was built in 1895 in Muscatine, Iowa – a big old beautiful house with a grand staircase, old wood floors and ultra wide molding. This house was set up on a hill close to the little downtown, overlooking the river. However, the wood floors were beat up, the wallpaper must have been put on with the 1800’s version of Gorilla glue, and there were virtually no closets. Our houses tend to score huge points for character and low points for perfection. They are usually projects that require patience, gentleness, faith, and imagination.
Recently, I visited my friend’s new house and I drove away with a little new-house-envy-fairy hanging over my shoulder pointing out all the beautiful things she has in her house that I don’t have in mine – like quiet toilets, big walk-in closets, and level floors.
On my worst days, my envy fairy gets a little more personal. When I see someone who really seems to have their act together, I walk away wishing I could get mine together. When I see someone who is never late, who rarely loses their composure, and who always seems to be happy with their children. Sometimes I think God is the envy fairy voice on my shoulder telling me, “Get cleaned up, fix those broken places, shine yourself up.”
But this can’t be true because God’s love is not dependent on an extreme makeover. The Scriptures say that while we were dead in our transgressions, Christ died for us. In Mark 2:17, Jesus said that the healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. He explained that he didn’t come to call those who were already righteous, but those who were sinners—the old houses, in other words.
Being patient and gentle with an old house reminds me of how I need to be patient and gentle with myself. I’m learning to receive and apply God’s love and grace to the chipped paint and deteriorating brick of my own heart.