Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spiritual Things

You know, I love gardening. Or rather, the idea of gardening. I love that plants grow from seed, just like we do as Christians, and I love the smell and look of them. It's the digging in the soil that I rather avoid. You get all sweaty and it's hard work and I never have the right tools and I just don't know if I'm really doing it right. Yech.

With homeschooling -- I love getting it all organised. I love going to the library and checking out books, ordering books online, putting everything in the binders and organising all of it. The idea of learning something new. It's the teaching daily that I really hate. The grading of papers and the doing of worksheets.

I love sewing. I love creating something new. I love getting the patterns and putting them with the fabric and notions and then letting them sit -- because the actual sewing isn't nearly as much fun as the idea of what the thing will be.

I like to paint things, too. Like home decorating painting. So I do get all the right tools for that, and organise it all, and then I wait. I dread the actual doing of it. It's hard work, and it takes time, and I'd just rather it were all just done. Sometimes I think about paying someone else to do it, and I quickly scrap that foolish idea because it wouldn't be my work.

Last night I was painting the trim in my bedroom. Since we moved in, I have tried and tried to work with the dark, rich red oak woodwork in there. It's not beautiful, old woodwork (this house was built in 1980). But it was pretty. When we moved into the house, nothing had changed since it was built -- so it was full of big floral-print wallpaper, a lot of mustard yellow and forest green, and a LOT of that mauve country looking stuff. Even some stencilling.

Since then, I have been working on changing it all to light, bright, white and pale-from-the-seaside look. The bedroom was the last holdout on the wood; I thought I could make it work in a chocolate-and-tiffany blue kinda way, but it just didn't. And Hunk O Man is a little tired of all the pale blue in the house.

So I gave in and am finally painting it. This would be the crown all around the room, 3 doorways and doors, and baseboard. And a full built-in shelf/desk unit. See why I thought I'd just work with it? Yep, that's me, Go Big Or Go Home Jen, Where There's A Will There's Jen With A Hammer Jen. Painting it all white.

It took until 9:00PM last night for me to actually get in there and do the first coat of gloss over the primer. I didn't have the small roller covers to do the shelving. I needed to go to Wal Mart. I needed another cup of coffee. I needed to make dinner. I needed to get the mail. I needed to do ANYTHING but get in there and get it done! I was stalling and I knew it.

And yet, finally when I did resolve to get it done, I was standing on a stepstool painting away and Hunk O Man commented, "You're so good at that. So patient."

Hmmm. Apparently he'd been gone at work all day and hadn't seen me procrastinating.

I thanked him for the compliment (see why I LOVE this man?) and finished up. Today -- or some day in the near future -- I need to give everything a second coat, and then paint the walls (for the third time), and it will all be done and beautiful. I will be able to finally go into my bedroom, my haven, and sigh with pleasure as I relax away from the world.

Unfortunately, I will have to do all this work before I can relax. And I will have to deal with my chaotic bedroom, which is difficult to navigate, until I finish it all up. Nothing like a little motivation to help me along.

When we lived in California, I did each of the girls' rooms in a theme. I painted and decorated and had a ball. They were all unique.

Then when the house was on the market for us to move, I remember standing and painting over the beautiful stencilling and paint treatment I'd done in JB's room, and thinking, "I hate this. I hate this." Then I stopped and realised what I hated was covering up my beautiful work, not the painting. I actually said out loud to myself "Who am I kidding? I love this." I was comparing the work I was doing then to the work I'd done in the marketplace previous -- and I was right, I do love to paint.

I suppose it's natural to want the result without the work. For things to just be beautiful around us with no effort. In some ways, it already is. But honestly speaking -- the work makes it even more beautiful. It makes me tired and appreciative of the result even more. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

This is a recurrent theme in my life. I want to know God because I like the idea of knowing Him. But the actual getting to know Him? That's a different story, because it involves reading the Word and listening for His voice. I want to have a great marriage and great kids because I like those ideas. And you know what the worst thing is?

It's not even the work that gets me. It's the idea of doing the work. How ridiculous is that?

It's the mindset that will get me every time. That perspective thing. I continually have to keep looking up, and then it all becomes clear, and I get started and going, and then it's done and feel great. I glorify Him through the doing, and I talk to Him all the time while I'm doing it.

So I suppose I should get off this computer and get some sewing and painting and homeschooling and gardening done. . . but I want to leave you with something my friend Rich Mullins once said:

"A lot of times we think something spiritual is happening and it is merely aesthetics. That is why it always bugs me at the end of a concert someone will say, "Wow the Spirit really worked" and I kind of go, "How would you even be able to know that? It was so noisy in here tonight. How would you know if the Spirit was working?" "Well, I was really moved." Well, that is an emotional thing. That's not a spiritual thing. A spiritual thing is folding your clothes at the end of the day. A spiritual thing is making your bed. A spiritual thing is taking cookies to your neighbor that is shut in or raking their front lawn because they are too old to do it. That's spirituality."