Life and Paint

02Feb12

It’s kind of strange to be looking at this screen, contemplating real blogging for the first time since September.  Yes, I posted a lot in October – but it wasn’t the real deal, and I knew it.  Life’s been messy since September 27, more or less, but in the past six weeks I’ve found that mess to be a whole lot more liberating than I ever expected.

I don’t know that I can actually explain any of this so as to make sense (and I’m not sure I really even need to be thinking about that), but I know for mental health I need to get back to the occasional jot here on the blog.  So here goes.

I moved into a new house in November.  I thought it was going to be temporary – two months, maybe three at the most.  Turns out I was wrong on a number of fronts, and it appears this house will be my home for the foreseeable future (just as a note, I’ve realized that my aptitude for seeing the future is pretty abysmal, so don’t let “foreseeable future” mean any more than just that).  Because it’s now my home and not just the friend’s-house-where-I’m-living-right-now, I’ve started to let myself get attached to it.  Translation: I’m pouring some serious elbow-grease into this place. :-) (Not nearly as much as my friend – the owner of the house – has put in, but she had a head start…)

Last week I started in on the list of things to finish around the house (yes, it was the end of January).  I picked the most measurable goal first, so that I’d actually feel like I was accomplishing something.  After the bathroom was painted (it only took two hours and I discovered that maybe I don’t hate color as much as I thought I did), I started tackling the next biggie: stripping paint from the bannister railing going upstairs and continuing in the second-floor hallway.

My life looks a lot like that bannister railing right now.  Totally in process.  Nowhere near finished.  A real mess.  But you know what?  There’s enough encouragement – on both the railing and in my life – that I want to continue the process!  In some places, I’ve stripped away five layers of paint – two coats of white, two of blue, and one of black – to reveal some pretty awesomely beautiful wood.  In other places, I’ve let the stripping material sit for a few days just to soften things up a bit.   Even the powerful, keep-windows-open-and-fans-on gel I’ve been using to break the bond of paint-to-wood has required several applications to make a dent in some spots.

I’ve spent a good bit of time over the past week in ratty jeans, a t-shirt, an N95 mask, eye goggles, and rubber gloves.  I sometimes feel like that’s how I should approach my life.  And maybe armed with a disposable paintbrush and plastic scrapers, too.  It’s tedious business – taking old paint away.  But somehow I know one of these days I’ll finish – the wood will shine, the posts below will be repainted, and it’ll be gorgeous.  Sort of like how I hope life will turn out.

I realized in November that in order to “move on” with life, I needed to heal.  I can’t even tell you what exactly I needed to heal from, but I knew I needed to heal (it started with reading this book).  I also had the sense that the healing was going to look more like healing from a quadruple bypass than a paper cut.  Band-aids and neosporin – the surface treatments – weren’t going to do anything.

And then I realized I actually had to have the “surgery” (metaphorically speaking, of course), to cut out the bad and actually give myself a chance to heal.

There comes a point when you absolutely cannot ignore a physical problem – like chest pain – any more.  You HAVE to do something about it.  I got to that point emotionally about 10 days into December.  I don’t quite know how to explain it other than I decided to let God do the surgery, but that meant making the hardest decision of my life.

I’m not going overseas.

A decade of planning and creating an identity for myself vanished, *pouf*, instantly.

And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

But when you’re six weeks from D-Day and decide to withdraw from the plan, there’s the potential for a lot of fallout.  Incidentally, yesterday was my target departure date.  Was.  But I’m still here, and instead of fallout, all I’ve experienced is grace.  So much of it that I have literally pinched myself on multiple occasions to make sure I’m not dreaming.  (I’m not.  It’s for real!)

And for the first time in my life, I do not have a plan.  And I’m okay with that!  God has a plan – He knows what He’s doing.  Progress will be slow and painful – tedious and tiring, strange and new – all those things that come with truly learning to LIVE life.  Weirdly, I’m not scared of the process.  Because the hope that accompanies this process is so much more real, now that I’ve allowed God’s grace in my life!!!!!

Anyway, I need to go apply another layer of Citrastrip (because if it smells like citrus it must work, huh?!) to the bannister.  And my life.  Let the peeling continue!  Let the adventure soar!!!

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2 Responses to “Life and Paint”

  1. I totally get it! I love you and I think you have been courageous through your most recent turn in life. Keep it up, rely solely on Him and everything will work out the way He intended. I love reading your blog and I am glad you are going to continue to write. Your analogy is a perfect example. I will continue to pray for you. I am so glad God aloud us to meet, my world would not be the same without you.

  2. 2 "Hope"

    Susanna,

    I found your blog a couple times now through the RG website (i.e. when you comment on the RG website your blog is linked through your name). Anyway, just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading some of the things you wrote. I was so blessed to see how you were willing to give up your dreams of going overseas to do the hard thing and really learn to live your life on your own there in the US. I know it will be worth it, and what joy you will have to see God unfolding your life. For me, I think a lot of my culture shock living overseas for three years now has also been the culture shock of learning to live on my own, rather than in an institution (i.e. training center) or at home with my parents. It has been such an awesome journey for me to see God beginning to unfold my life and to be able to be who He created me to be! Thanks for sharing this and for your courage to take the steps to enter the surgery room! Blessings to you!


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