Could it be that life is like home projects–that the tearing down is necessary before the building up? And that the demolition of the old takes much longer than ever anticipated?
We are on week 5 of the fence project.
The old fence had to go before the new one could go up. Knocking it down wasn’t that hard. In fact, I think the knock-it-down crew found the process rewarding–all that flexing of the muscles and cheering as a section fell.
But then . . . oh the agony of digging into the hard earth to pull out huge cylinders of hardened cement, still there, still stubborn, despite the fact the the poles above the cement were weak.
Too often i’m like that cement, tenaciously holding onto the past, onto the old me, when the winds of change have weathered the old foundations into something no longer usable.
Sometimes I even get it. I know the way I’m thinking or acting isn’t working for me. I know something needs to change. And I try to tear down the old. The surface stuff falls away. For awhile I think I’ve made the necessary transitions only to find a nubbin of the old pole stuck in a big ole slab of concrete.
Getting that sucker out is grueling. It means letting go of the fear that I can’t change as well as the fear of the change. It can mean deep grief. Digging far enough to get that long buried hurt, that hardened place out of me. Not only is it tough work, it often means anger and tears and sadness, and emotions I don’t want around. But that rough old rock isn’t going to budge without coaxing.
There are all kinds of digging tools. Shovels and hoes and pick axes. Believe it or not one of the best for digging around the slabs and reshaping the hard ground of our fence was an old tuna can.
Isn’t that life, too? Little questions work the soil of our heart as we are faced with change. Then maybe unwanted adjustments, like loss of relationships, income, or other places of security, loosen it further. When life gets crazy enough we loosen our iron-clad grips on status quo.
The first few cement blocks of our old fence were slow to release from their long held home. Lots of digging by different tools. Back-breaking labor, but eventual success.
But it got a little easier. A friend loaned us a tool that made those cement chunks come out in half the time.
Maybe that’s what allowing real emotion does. Maybe anger, or tears, or plain honest grief loosens up the soil of my heart so the hard stuff is released.
Getting those cement casings out was by far the hardest part of our fence-building process. I think the tearing down of the old foundations of our schemata of life is the hardest part, too.
Much of the thinking that holds us back from the life we long for is based on foundations begun in childhood. Our little souls began building them when we had too little experience to do the work justice. We built how we saw God, ourselves, others, and the journey of life on limited information. Some of it was even faulty–like the words that told us we were inadequate or unlovable. The times there wasn’t enough justice or money or hope or relationship to go around. Or how about this one–the angry finger of religion that said we had to shape up and how but that we’d never be good enough no matter how hard we tried.
This list is unending. And it’s built on a limited perspective of the chaos of the world instead of the hope we find in God and the good He offers.
But we don’t have to hang onto the hardened places in our hearts.
You may not recognize God’s construction crew when He come to build something new and good. At first, it may look more like a wrecking ball.
My friend, if you feel crushed today, like what you thought was supposed to be yours has been shattered or torn away, or like there’s a creaking in your heart and something long buried is being exposed, take comfort!
Ask the Creator what’s up. Maybe something new and good is coming. Something so beautiful it could never be built with the old places of your heart hardened like concrete and stuffed down deep.
Once that old chunk of cement is removed, He’ll begin reshaping the hole, then, with your permission, He’ll refill it with the new. And something strong and beautiful will be under construction.
May His peace strengthen and heal you in the tearing down season and the joy of a new morning blow you away when construction begins.
My fence is nearing completion. After several long weekend work days all the old cement is out and new concrete formed around sturdy, new posts.
Today a friend and I finished framing out the last two sides. All that is left to frame is a new gate.
About half the fence is new and beautiful, the fresh fragrance of wood tantalizing in the crisp autumn air. The process has felt excruciatingly slow, but the there is great pleasure in the strength of beauty of the new.
Until next time,
*As I wrote this blog a couple of thoughts from Scripture came to mind. One of them is a treasured favorite of mine: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26
I was also reminded of Matthew 9:16-17