Altered Hearts

After my husband and I were married for a year we decided to buy our first home. We were venturing out of the our comfort zone as renters and searching for the perfect house to start a family. We looked for what seemed forever, walking through so many homes in so many different neighborhoods. If I loved it, it was out of our price bracket and if it was in our price bracket I felt “BLAH” about it. I had so many things on my checklist that I thought was a “requirement” and could not be negotiated on.

I remember the first fixer-upper my husband and the realtor brought me to. First of all, this house was so far out of town (I conveniently grew up in town and my husband grew up 30 minutes from town, way back in the country) that I began to get a little nervous. We pulled into the driveway and the first thing I remember thinking was “this can’t be the right place, it looks condemned.” It was an old brick house, probably about 1000 sq ft, the roof looked more than 30 years old, and the grass was up to my knees. I had already made up my mind before even exiting the vehicle that I was NOT living in this house and there was no way that I was buying a home that I had to remodel. Especially to this extent!!

Now I wasn’t raised in a home that was new, not even close. We didn’t have new cars, not even new clothes (we were proud loyal customers of the local Goodwill). I was raised watching my dad build anything and everything that my mom saw at Walmart or the local Lumbar store because we couldn’t afford it. When I was 11 yrs old we relocated to a new town and my parents bought a huge fixer-upper house, located in town (we were country kids). This house had the ugliest carpet (disco), it had chipboard walls, flower paneling, most all the ceiling had to be redone, and list goes on and on. I watched as my dad would work 10 hrs daily, sometimes leaving work to go to his second job, and then coming home to work on the house. Spending every weekend working on the house (this house took over a decade to remodel). Hearing my parents arguing (just kidding, they were about the house or its lack of speedy renovations. I vowed that I wasn’t going to do that when I got married, I would be different!

We didn’t buy that house. We continued searching until we drove down a country road 30 minutes out of town and saw a small log house with a For Sale By Owner in front. The house was very plain and simple. It needed a lot of work on the inside and I wasn’t so sure, but for the price they were asking it would’ve been crazy to walk away. We ended up remodeling that home, rented it out, and even moved back in at one time. I miss that old log house, lots of memories with my kids are there. Would you believe we ended selling that house for more than double what we bought it for? Would you believe that for the past 14 years we have bought, lived in, remodeled, and sold homes? Yes, we flip houses. Who would’ve thought this girl that couldn’t see the potential of a diamond in a rough, would love remodeling houses. We keep talking about building our own new home, but we just can’t seem to make that commitment.

You see, I really do love old houses. I’ve always lived in old houses. Old houses need lots of work and the work never seems to be done. Just when a renovation in an area is completed, something else needs to be done. All houses are different sizes and different appearances. Some houses are uglier than others, some bigger, and other houses are dirtier than others.  Our hearts are like old houses. They are in constant need or renovation. My heart will never be in a state of “Perfection”. I judged all those houses based on how they appeared on the outside. Kind of like we do each other. Society teaches us to categorize people based on outward beauty, we judge them by their size, too messy or dirty, crooked teeth, bad hair, uneven eyes. I could go on and on. We may be judged by how we dress: clothes too tight, too loose, too many piercings, and tattoos.

I’m so thankful that when God saw me, He saw beautiful. He looked my faults (which were so many, He was in for a task!) and only saw potential. Just like those old houses that I love to go into and visualize about what it could be, Jesus does the same with His children. I may be tattered, unlevel, my walls need to be torn down, but Jesus only sees me as HIS beautiful mess. I was recently in the alters at church praying, so overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and inability to reach perfection (or my idea of perfection). I suddenly realized that those weren’t feelings that Jesus intended for me to bear. I believe Jesus looks down on our hearts on our worst days, the days I’ve messed up and maybe even feel as if I’ve failed at life and He says proudly “Would you look at her, she belongs to ME.” Nothing I could do, could make Jesus love me any more, He already loves me fully!!

While I will always continue to strive to have an ever changing and improving heart that reflects Jesus in all that I say and do, I know that Jesus’ love is not based on my performance. I thank God everyday for the constant renovations in my heart!

C.S. Lewis stated “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” – C.S. Lewis –Mere Christianity

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