After I graduated from college and moved into my first house with friends, I didn’t own any furniture. Along with having no furniture, I also had no money. The upscale Chicago suburb I lived in had a once-a-year “trash day” where people put their used belongings on the side of the road for pick up. Those with smaller budgets and empty houses marked our calendars to go treasure hunting. I furnished a majority of my first house this way. I gathered coffee tables, chairs, and bookshelves from those hefty donations. Many of the items I found were made of wood but were no longer in excellent condition. But, I soon realized that paint would cover a multitude of flaws. I covered that wood furniture with coat after coat of paint. Covering up was easier than doing the work to expose the original beauty of the wood. It was a cheaper, easier, and faster process to slap on layers of paint. I wanted my furniture ready for use quickly. I opted for a quick fix to get the immediate result I wanted.
One of the afternoon projects included spray paint. I just kept adding layer upon sticky layer in hopes that it would adhere and completely cover the wood. To think of it now makes me cringe. I didn’t leave myself margin to do the job well.
I want to report that this halfway approach to furniture facelifts ceased once I was married, but that would be a lie. In our first year of marriage, my husband and I were gifted a beautiful set of bookshelves. They were mostly made of wood and stained a light cherry color. They worked well with the decor of our first apartment, but once my style got an upgrade, they no longer went with my color scheme. Once again, I opted for paint. Since I always seemed to be in a hurry, I decided to paint them without priming. The paint appeared to be adhering nicely until after it had dried. While moving them inside the house, the paint scraped right off when rounding a corner.
Shortcuts don’t pay off.
When the coffee table and the shelves lost their luster in exchange for blemishes, they eventually were sold for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. I thought about doing the work of stripping the paint and restoring the wood, but I lacked the vision to see those projects through to completion. I moved on.
I moved on because I didn’t see the value in them anymore. I would venture to say that I never experienced those pieces of solid wood furniture the way they were intended to be used and displayed. By the time I had them in my possession, I wasn’t willing to do the work of restoration. I often wonder if I would still own those pieces if I had partnered to expose their true beauty. They would have been great conversation starters. And today, they still can be.
You and I are made to display the glory of God. But there have been days where I struggled to believe that truth. Can you relate? When something left a scrape on my life, I opted to cover it up instead of taking the long, slow road towards restoration. As a young emerging leader, the times I chose shortcuts affected my confidence, value, and worth. And when that happened, compromise soon followed. The old tapes of pain and rejection repeatedly playing in my mind opened the door to strife and posturing. There were times I chose that path instead of the slower road to healing. Phrases like “not good enough” and “you’re worthless” worked their way into my internal conversations and eventually out of my mouth.
But that isn’t the truth. My worth and value are not rooted in how good I look, what I have accomplished, or other people’s thoughts about how I fit. And the same is true of you. When you’ve placed layer upon layer of crummy old paint on top of the beauty within you, what’s needed is a power washer to come and begin the process of stripping it all away.
When we position ourselves to be washed and cleansed by the love of God, our job is to stay still and receive. I offer this caution; healing and restoration are far more effective and long-lasting when inviting others to accompany us on the journey. There is wisdom in finding trusted guides to journey alongside you on the road to healing and restoration. Others often have eyes to help us see the things we miss. Friends, family members, and pastors may fill the role of a trusted guide. But consider the possibility that your restoration journey may need the intentional, focused time and attention that a trained counselor or coach provides. Can you identify where you are on your journey towards restoration? Are you in touch with what you need to face the road ahead? Know this: You were not meant to walk the road alone.
Shortcuts don’t pay off.
So what is our role in all this? It begins with self-awareness. Make room to stop, pause, and reflect long enough to identify unhealthy thoughts and behavioral patterns. Admittedly, identifying these patterns and coping mechanisms is not easy. Peeling back the layers of the choices we’ve made to hide our pain never is. Seeking a coach or counselor to walk with you as you weather the growing pains accompanying healing could be the next practical step in your wholeness journey. Having someone present with you, holding space and bearing witness to your pain and your healing, is holy work. I urge you to choose the slow road of restoration and healing.
Restoration is not accomplished because of something you do but because you choose to believe that you are who God says you are. Believing what is true about you requires an active choice to stay close to God and rest while He peels away layers and reveals the original, beautiful design that has been there all along.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5
A loving Father is inviting you to sit with Him, receive His love, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerate and renew you to fully reflect the beauty you were created to put on display.