If You Ain't Broke, He Can't Fix You
Blinded By the Light
A consummate DIYer, it is always my goal to do as much as my budget will allow. Frugal Fanny that I am, I am continually out to save a buck without cutting quality. I reuse, repurpose, redo, rethink, and reinvent. My latest project, the back bedroom, a.k.a. the room my 18 year-old totally trashed and had to be evicted from to his new digs in the basement (which incidentally he loves and keeps cleaner than the old room), is nearly complete minus some trim work and blinds (which we'll come back to) and cost me a whopping $20. I used leftover floor stain from the living room, mixed the last of the blue paint with some white, and chose to finish sand the floor by hand rather than rent the big guns this time. I sidewalk shopped, found treasure at Goodwill, and finally found a place to display some items from around the house. With my great grandmother's double wedding ring quilt and a queen size bed I got for free gently used, I'm inclined to move in to this room!
Because the room was trashed I tore it apart. Took up the carpet #2 son destroyed beyond repair only to find 60 year-old green linoleum beneath.
Fine. I can handle this.
With a friends' help we got most of it up. But after two more unsuccessful days there are still remnants that refuse to budge and a floor full of glue that resembles tar and is stuck what seems like for good. So much for ambitious intentions. This was last fall. By July I've resigned myself to buying new carpet. But I don't want to do this. For all the wood I've uncovered and refinished in this old house it would be like an unfaithful act of betrayal. The door stays closed and clutter is growing as this room has become the catch-all. And still it mocks me, daring me to try again. So I contemplate my options and I worry I'll have to hire someone and fork out money, something I do not do. My father pays people to do work for him. And except for the kind of projects you really should hire professionals for, I do it myself. It's a pride thing. Maybe too much of a pride thing. So now I find out friends from Missouri want to come to Illinois in early October
October? That's in three months. Less than three months! I have no choice now. I clean out the room and get busy.
In a heat wave. One of the longest stretches Illinois has had in nearly twenty years. So razor scraper and paint scraper in hand I'm on my hands and knees. A friend suggests I use a propane torch. Said it worked for him. I don't own a torch. I have many tools, this is not one of them. But I read an iron and wet towels works. After four hours and four gallons of my own sweat, I've managed to lift two square feet of tile and gunk and nearly ruined my $70 iron.
And then I remember.
I own an industrial heat gun. BRILLIANT! Now I'm winning the war with the floor! In three days I've stripped the floor down and it no longer mocks me. Much. Sand, seal, stain, and varnish. Now completely restored it matches the rest of the house, another feather in my cap! I stand back and admire and post another update to Facebook.
Back to the blinds.
When I tore the room up, I took out the wooden blinds and reused them in the living room. They work well in there so I can't take them back. It would be unfair to the living room. But I want blinds again and do not want to pay for them. I've made my own roman shades out of roll-up bamboo shades. They were ingenious. I never buy curtains. I make them.
So how hard can Venetian blinds be? I need a plan. So I research. And research
The more I dig on the internet, finding one lame article on ehow and something someone else probably plagiarized from the same ehow article, I'm realizing perhaps this is not a project for the faint of heart. But I am not the faint of heart. I use table saws and chop saws. I strip with heat guns and paint tall ceilings in a single stroke. I am woman, hear me roar! I'm smart enough to figure this out. So I study the blinds I already have in an attempt to understand their inner workings. Taking a new search approach I Google broken Venetian blind, fix cord and I stumble across an article with pictures on how Venetian blind mechanisms work.
Awesome! Practically a blueprint.
Meanwhile, I can swear I hear God snickering in the background knowing how this project is going to end up.
So I measure and cut and drill and stain the slats to match the floor. I measure the pull cord string and fashion an elaborate ladder system to hold the slats and allow them to be opened and closed. You know how those work. I measure and cut, and thread and drill and hang and wrestle with 20 feet of string going every direction until I feel like a puppeteer! Lord help me I'm starting to see why people pay $300 for these things. Somehow, without four hands I get this contraption screwed into the window frame and adjust everything. They're up.
And stubbornly crooked.
And they don't work.
Not even a little bit.
So I cut them down and study the drawing and try again, this time fashioning an even more complex ladder out of, yes, leftover shopping bag handles because I AM FRUGAL FANNY!! And I measure, and I cut, and I pin, and I sew and I am so very proud of this new and improved contraption I've designed. I hang it and make adjustments without benefit of four hands because I am experienced now.
And it works!
But it's crooked - very crooked.
About half-way down, it's sloping awkwardly to the left.
And it looks like ...(insert expletive here)
So I wrestle with it and straighten it until it looks presentable.
And it works! The slats open and close. It's a work of genius! And it cost me nothing! I am gloating privately now sweating like I can't believe.
I must test them, demonstrate my skill and feel proud. So I pull the cord to raise the blinds.
And the ladder breaks sending the slats cascading to one side in a torrent.
Because I'm sweating profusely now from working around the ceiling and because the sun is in my eyes and it's hot by the window. And I'm ready to quit and go buy the damn things.
But I wont. Can't. It must be finished now. Because the blinds are mocking me.
And I can sense that God is leaning against the wall with His arms crossed shaking His head from side to side with a smile waiting for me to decide to quite struggling with these blinds I'm now bound and determined to make work - on my own. Without any financial investment.
I measure, and tie, and staple, and gerry rig.
And they work.
They look reasonably straight.
And I'm not touching them again. Ever. There will be a Do Not Touch sign on the blinds.
Even though they work, as I stand back I just can't bring myself to admire them. But I hear God very quietly tell me that in order to "fix" those blinds, they had to be broken. I had no way of adjusting them the way they were. Until that ladder broke, I couldn't make any adjustments. Because the more I struggled to fix them, the worse they looked. Once I could step away from the blinds I could see that even my best effort on my own with the best of intentions was not going to fix them. I had knotted the top too tightly. So the harder I tugged and struggled, the weaker the ladder supporting those slats became until it broke by my own stubborn insistence to force it into submission. On the other hand He says, had you been patient, saved some pin money you could have bought what you wanted and saved the sweat and struggle.
I realized God was really trying to tell me something that had absolutely nothing to do with Venetian blinds.
As usual. Because God loves to weave the ordinary in to the extraordinary and give us a picture of His will for our lives in how we live it out in the little things. Letting us muddle through life until we're tired of struggling to make things work and turn around to see Him leaning against the wall waiting.
Like window blinds.
For several years I've tried unsuccessfully to DIY my life. A lot of stuff has come against me making every day a struggle. I constructed an elaborate ladder holding all the little slats that would fill my day and justify my purpose. A blind fool unbalanced and ready to break struggling every day to make meaning out of the mundane. My marriage has been a wreck, my body hurts in places it's never hurt, I've been unemployed for almost two years now, and have managed to put on yet another 20 pounds. I've tugged at my life trying to make it work by countless means, trying to fix my husband, fix my kids, fix my weight, fix my broken career, fix everything, make every room in the house perfectly decorated because it's the one area I can be in control of, refinish every piece of wood covered in carpet, be the best worship singer I could be, work a part time job I hated but pretended to like, and so on, and so on, and so on. And God sat back and watched, with a sad smile on His face as I stubbornly resisted any help but still cried out in desperation in my situation.
Yesterday, my ladder broke.
And my life cascaded to the floor in a raging torrent. My world as I knew it collapsed. My marriage was at the breaking point. I was at the breaking point. And all the things I had been trying to do to make my life straight, save a buck by doing it myself, it was all in vain. It was done. Over. Finished.
My husband was leaving me. My doing, not his because I told him I was through with all the junk I'd put up with and after some very unkind words on both sides, I told him I never wanted him to come home again. I had asked him for one last time if he was willing to do whatever it took to make our marriage work. He refused. So I played my trump card.
And this time, I really, really, really meant it.
Ta da! Life is fixed. Problem solved. Problem eliminated. Now I am free to do it all my way. A personal DIY every day. Yay for me!
Until I got a text from him four hours later that he was taking a job transfer.
And that's when not only my ladder disintegrated, but the pull cords holding everything up broke as well. In that moment, God allowed my heart to break in a thousand pieces and showed me the junk didn't matter. He might be a problem child but everything that had led up to this point was as much my doing as his. I wasn't putting up with stuff, I was gathering all the junk up and carrying it around like a project. I had to let it go. In a panic after another text I called him crying hysterically, desperate to talk to him. We never have phone issues where we live. Great cell service. But this call just kept breaking up and all I got was "we'll talk later".
God is good. I needed the day.
I was an emotional train wreck to say the very least all day. No energy to do anything. I dragged on my walking shoes finally about 2:30 and went out for 3 miles. It helped but it was so hot and humid. I really didn't think I'd make it home. Drenched I stripped off my sweaty clothes and tried to cool down. By four I had barely recovered. So I went to the tanning salon. Got undressed and in the bed. Five minutes into my 20 minute session the fan broke. Too tired to complain, I sweated it out, literally. Seemed like the whole day had been one big sweat. By the time I got home I had barely enough time to shower. I had plans with a girlfriend that night and my husband who was now going to come home despite my request was working a double shift. We talked over martinis and she told me the story of her recent divorce. She realized she couldn't fix her husband. He was having an affair he wouldn't walk away from. She tried as hard as she could until God told her to let it go and let Him worry about her husband. He gave her peace to leave. It was the right thing for the right reasons. Talking about what I had been dealing with and the spot I was in, because despite the fact that I didn't want him to leave, as far as I knew, he was still done with us too. She told me that it wasn't my job to fix my husband either (who is NOT unfaithful to me, ever. He's just been a big butthead). I needed to let God deal with him. Ironically, my husband has been telling me for years that I needed to stop trying to fix everybody, including him. I never heard his heart on this point until last night out of the mouth of a friend I hadn't seen in over a year. Why I decided to call her and get together can only be a God thing. It was only because I was cleaning out my phone contacts that I came across her name and thought it would be good to see her.
Yep. God is very good.
When I got home about 10:30, my husband was home. He had forgone his second shift because he wanted to come home and be with me. He jeopardized his job to come home early. Made me feel like a heel. So we talked. But it didn't start out well. In fact, it was looking decidedly like we going to be right back where we were that morning. And then a miracle happened. We both settled down. I missed him. Finding my way into the crook of his arm we talked.Together for the first time in a great while.
And I cried.
And I let junk go.
I decided to choose him again without all the ultimatums.
And he told me he loved me, very much. And my ladder broke again. This time for good. Those words broke my heart for him and reestablished what I had lost but had prayed to be restored. We started over. I threw the ladder away. I didn't need it anymore to work properly.
Assuming his company goes through with the project and sends him, I'm okay with him going to Mexico, because it will be good for his career and our family and because I know he will come home.
But I don't like being broken. While it's a good hurt. I could have saved myself a lot of misery.
The blinds are up. Those stupid blinds. They really look like crap hanging on the window. I should go buy a cheap pair until I can afford the real thing.
On second thought, I think I'll leave them up as a reminder to stop trying to do everything myself. Some things are better left to a professional.
2 Corinthians 3:6-9;16-18
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We hare hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
John 12:35-36; 40 (NIV)
Then Jesus told them,"You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light."
"He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn - AND I WOULD HEAL THEM."