I wrote the following post at 8am last Monday morning. I was hoping that I would be able to press “Publish” before the moving frenzy began, but alas, a week has gone by and it’s the first time I am revisiting the post. However, the lessons God was and is teaching me in this post ring even truer this week.
As you know from my previous posts, we are in the process of moving. My parents graciously allowed Jared and me to stay at their house for the past three months while we transitioned from Chicago to Cincinnati. We originally planned to close on our house at the end of April but due to our new home’s seller’s obligations, we needed to wait until last week to close on the house. We acquiesced to their desires because we loved the house and felt the wait was worth it. (Plus, I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and the thought of my mom’s extra TLC during my morning sickness phase sounded pretty great!)
The one change Jared and I decided to make in the house after we took ownership was to install hardwood floors. Okay, let me rephrase that: we decided to hire someone to install our hardwood floors! So after we closed on our house, we turned the keys over to the flooring crew. They told us they would need ten days to complete the project. That seemed like ample time, but I appreciated that they were building in a time cushion in case of unforeseen circumstances.
As the days ticked by and great progress was being made, the supervisor told us that they projected the job would be completed two days before schedule. Perfect, I thought. Just enough time for us to bring in a cleaning crew and a carpet cleaning crew before the movers come on Monday (today).
Before scheduling the carpet cleaning, I checked with our installer to make sure that it would not be a problem for the carpet cleaner to be at the house the same day he was finishing installing the wood floors. He said it was fine and so I was pleased to see that the timetable of these many appointments was working out smoothly. (You probably see where this is going…)
On Friday afternoon with a queasy stomach due to pregnancy nausea, I drove over to our new house to meet the carpet cleaner. I was surprised to see the house all locked up because the installer was supposed to be at the house finishing the job. The carpet cleaner and I walked into the house through the garage to see a new, thick layer of dust everywhere. On the walls. The floors. The cabinets. The appliances. My eyes widened as I took a few more steps and saw no more progress done on the wood floors than when Jared and I had checked on them the night before. Not only that, but when we walked into the great room, our stove sat in the middle of the carpet. When I peaked into the study, the toilet and sink from the hall bathroom stared back at me on the carpet. A little difficult to clean the carpets with large objects sitting in the middle of the floors.
Though I hardly said a word, I could feel the frustration welling up inside of me. I just kept thinking, How will we be ready for the movers Monday morning with the house looking like this?! Just looking around from room to room overwhelmed me. (Being pregnant probably did not help stabilize my emotions either.) Thankfully the carpet cleaner was an extremely kind gentleman and not only did he move the toilet and sink from the study so he could clean the carpet but promised to return to clean the great room’s floors after the hardwood was installed (and the stove was moved back to its proper place!).
When the carpets were clean, I hopped in my car to head back to my parents’ house. I mulled over all that transpired and what God may be up to in this perceived mayhem. In that moment, God brought to mind a quote by Beth Moore that I have posted on this blog before:
“If we distance ourselves long enough from real needs, we replace them with those that aren’t. Pretense becomes the new real and suddenly a delay in the delivery of our new couch becomes a terrible upset. We are wise to force ourselves to keep differentiating between simple inconveniences and authentic tribulations. The more detached and self-absorbed we become, the more we mistake annoyances for agonies. It happens to all of us. I often have to tell myself to get a grip and downsize how I’ve blown up a comparatively small problem” (Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, pg 92-93).
It was as if God was reminding me, Michelle, in light of eternal things, the fact that your house is filled with dust and the job may not be finished on time pales in comparison to what really matters. Yes, I needed that reminder. I also thought about friends and family members who were enduring extreme hardships and they would trade my “disaster” with their true devastation in a second. And boy, do I remember that feeling when I was going through chemo. Walking through difficult circumstances sure have a way of skimming away what doesn’t matter so that the eternal things shine much more brightly, and I didn’t want to forget those truths though I was a bit more removed from the experiences that taught me the lessons.
These insights reminded me of one of my favorite Scripture passages that states this much more eloquently:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
By the time I had arrived home after praying about the hardwood floor situation, my soul felt much lighter. I realized that even if the job was delayed and the house wasn’t clean, there were much more important priorities in life.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I have been learning about trusting God with devastating “big” experiences like chemo and frustrating “little” events like the flooding in our basement in our Chicago home. I am learning that life never ceases to present us with opportunities to relearn, remember, and reprioritize. And most of all, to cling to God, the only hope and constancy in the midst of an ever-changing, sometimes disappointing world.
As I write this, the cleaning service is scurrying around the house cleaning the layers of dust off the counters and floors. The moving truck is about to arrive, which means the house will get an initial cleaning before they set the furniture down. See, God had it all under control and there was no need for any frenzied emotion on my end. Yet another amazing reminder that God is in all of the details, and every situation is an opportunity to trust Him more.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must direct the movers where to unload the boxes!
God continued to keep this message front and center on my mind throughout the week as I unpacked boxes (with the help of my very selfless family). I found myself looking around at the piles of boxes and belongings and experiencing that same overwhelmed feeling that I had when I walked into our disheveled, dusty house. But thankfully when I prayed and asked for a new perspective, God brought to mind the truth about keeping the big picture and my eyes on Him, and though the piles didn’t disappear, the anxiousness of feeling settled and organized lessened.
I am reminding myself of these truths right now as I sit in a corner of our bedroom looking out over piles of socks, picture frames, shoes, and bags, and I am asking God to continue to help me focus my attention on Him and the things that matter. A song from my childhood Sunday School days just entered my mind and I will close with the lyrics to remind each of us that no matter what we may be facing–”simple inconveniences or authentic tribulations”–we would turn our eyes upon Jesus and keep our focus there:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace” (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922).
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 2:3, The Message)