Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When You Want to Fix Your Life Like You'd Fix Your Roof

Roofers swarm atop our humble abode and part of me is certain one of them will fall straight through the ceiling. The dog finally quit barking and I type back here in my bedroom, buried under the covers while my littlest guy watches Bob and Larry turned up too loud in the living room. 

For a woman who loves her tranquility, I sit smack in the middle of irony. The house is a wreck, the result of an organization project yesterday in which the task outlasted my energy. Books, laundry, toys, and too-small shoes litter our one, small hallway. The top of my house is ripped off. Also? Roofing is a crazy loud endeavor.

Our not-so-old roof is the victim of protracted weather damage. Too much wind here, a bit of hail there. We didn't realize it until a strip of shingles just landed on our front stoop one day. And then a few more another day. One home-owners claim and an insurance adjuster later, it turned out we needed a new roof. 

I'm not usually one to stretch my metaphors but I can't help it this time.

Homes don't usually fall apart all at once and neither do those who live inside them. A string of disappointments here. A few years of unchecked bitterness there. Comforts-turned-coping-mechanisms-turned-sin start slow and snowball. The daily demands of family life make the urgent trump the important. 

And then one day part of the proverbial roof hits you on the head and you realize you're in bad need of fixing. 

These roofers roared in bright and early with their giant trailer loaded up with nail guns and tarps, shingles and boards, ladders and wood. They get down to business, systematically ripping out the bad, putting in the new, setting it all just so, and then moving on to another job. 

In two days flat, we'll go from falling-apart roof to brand new roof. And then we move on to another day, problem solved, shiny new roof sheltering us from the elements.

God, why won't You just swarm in and fix us up in two days? How many more layers do you need to rip out before you rebuild? What is the point of protracted pain and struggle and strife? I'm exhausted and can you see this white flag I'm waving already? 

I want the quick{er} fix, the two-day roof job. 

But it's not happening. 

Lately I've feel a bit ripped apart and exposed. I try in vain to patch up the outside under the illusion that it will also take care of the mess inside. As if fixing a roof will repair the water-damaged furniture or the ceiling that's soggy and falling in wet chunks to the floor.

We can't work from the outside-in and we can't reconcile the mess of our lives with the glossy images and slick successes of others' lives. I know these things, yet I am slow to learn.

Monday I read this post of Ann's. And then I read it again. I read it two more times before I went to bed that night.  

Here's an excerpt {but you should go read the rest}:

You don’t get to make up most of your story. You get to make peace with it. 
You don’t get to demand your life, like a given. You get to accept your life, like a gift.
Beginnings and middles, they are only yours to embrace, to unwrap like a gift.
But you get the endings. You always get the endings.
You get the endings and you get to make them a gift back to the Giver.
She told herself that, tucking falling strands behind her ear: Here wasn’t a glory to wrestle, but a grace to receive. Isn’t everything that is good always hard?

Sometimes truth like that dangles in front of you like a carrot. You're starving and you desperately want it but no matter how hard you try, it's simply out of reach.

Lord, I'm trying so hard to make peace with this life of mine...but it's not happening. I'm doing all I know to fix it...but it won't stay put together.

So is that part of the answer? Stop trying. Stop laboring in your own strength or expecting those in relationship with you to labor in their own strength to just fix it already and move on.

Perhaps waving the white flag doesn't mean failure and it doesn't have to mean apathy. It can simply mean you cease striving and rest in the One who holds the whole world together, even when it feels as though it's falling apart.

I love this translation of Psalm 46:10:

Cease striving and know that I am God...

Is that what it means to make peace with our story? Because truly, there is only so much we can control. And it's not as much as we think.

Just ask my two beautiful sisters-in-law, one on my side of the family and one on my husband's side, who each gave birth to Down Syndrome baby girls just three weeks apart, one in Charlotte and one in Indianapolis. I don't have to tell you that these baby nieces of mine are among God's most precious gifts to this world and to our families. But that does not mean life for their parents is without its many struggles and heartaches and questions. 

They didn't plan it this way. There are no quick fixes for their challenges. 

Ask one of my dearest friends for the last ten years, Susan, who found out over the holidays that she has cancer. Stage 4. She's married, with two kids in middle school. Chemo began Monday and we're all praying, praying so hard, for God to heal her. 

She didn't plan it this way. Neither did her family. There is no quick fix for this cancer.

Ask me, ask my husband—why, in 17 years of marriage, we've had more than the average share of struggle and why it seems easier for some couples than others to make this thing work. We love each other and we are committed. But those virtues aren't enough to deflect suffering. 

We didn't plan it this way. There is no quick fix for marriage.

I usually ask more questions than I provide answers. And while I know there can be purpose in the seeking and communion in the quest, right now I'm choosing to just stop. 

Today, I wave the white flag and purpose to simply cease striving and know that He is God and that He is love. 

And nothing can separate me from his immeasurable love—not a story I wouldn't have chosen or a future that makes no sense or a trial that seems to have no end—nothing.

{Not even a roofer falling through the ceiling onto my head.}  

Today, I choose to give up. 

I choose not to resent.

I choose not to fix. 

I choose not to over-think.

Today, I simply rest in His unending love. 


  1. The post is just 11 minutes old! The journey is oh-so-much older. There are so many nuggets in here (as it almost always true) that I simply know that each reader will grab one, hold onto it, know that it was "just for" them, and it will make a difference.


    1. Thanks Mom. : ) As you know, my audience is first and, each post a letter to myself. That anyone else benefits, that's a gift.

  2. I love your voice, it comes as grace to so many.

  3. A timely message for me as I travel this new unchosen path.

    1. Victoria, hang in there. It's not the path you'd choose but God wastes nothing and He's the master of making all things new--"beauty for ashes."

  4. Girl, if you can talk him into the swoop down-fix-er-up method let me know!!!
    Loved this post!
    Miss you....

  5. Thank you for sharing. You truly have gift for words. I love your reflections about life and how you tell your story in a way that captures and relates your audience. That aside, I hope that your roof is already fixed so that you can feel peace and tranquility on your physical home again.

    Elizabeth Hoffnung

  6. How’s your roof now? I hope everything is well again inside your home. Having a damaged roof can prove to be stressful in every way. We had a damaged roof once, and it was the most stressful days of my life as well because the leak was more than I can bear. Luckily, my husband called for professional help and they were able to fix our roof for an entire 2 days. Since then, we never had problems with our roof again.

    Joanne Barragan


Share your thoughts?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin