by Joanie Butman
We were finally approved by the board to cosign for my daughter’s new apartment, which means that we get the privilege of grossly overpaying for a grossly undersized apartment. We’re supposed to feel lucky??? Such a crazy experience. Anyone not from the New York area would think we were insane. I think we’re insane.
The idea of a moving brings back traumatic memories of last year when Mom and Pop Schleppers were in charge. Gratefully, this new building requires “professional” movers. I mistakenly thought we qualified after all the moves we’ve made and was relieved that we would not be doing the heavy lifting this year.
Hannah’s new abode was recently renovated and is crisp and clean, with no signs of wear and tear. Consequently, she wanted to shed much of the old hand-me-downs and start fresh. Without many of the items we moved last year, the relocation should be relatively easy – or as easy as it gets in New York City. Getting the couch in was no easy feat. I can’t imagine getting it out is going to be any easier
Don’t we all want a fresh start at some point where we can discard our old stuff and start anew? Every morning as far as I’m concerned. As glorious as it sounds, it doesn’t work because you can’t get rid of the one thing that’s dragging you down most--namely, YOU! Try as we may, we can’t outrun ourselves. As fresh as any new home can be, when you move in, you never arrive empty handed or headed.
A true fresh start can only be accomplished by a spiritual renovation, and those are more complicated than any physical one. There’s no set blueprint and the process is organic, changing as you go along. Thank goodness we aren’t charged change fees like those accrued during home improvement projects. Contractors love change orders because you are at their mercy.
Conversely, Christ encourages change orders during any spiritual remodeling and NEVER applies a change fee. Plus, He’s already covered your expenses so dream BIG! You can afford it because “He can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us“ (Ephesians 3:20). However, we do have to listen for His instruction. Often that entails clearing the clutter to create a sacred space into which He can speak. Sounds easy, but if it was, we wouldn’t cling so tightly to that which needs to discarded.
Spiritual renovation is ALL about surrendering, and that process will almost always include pain because you have to acknowledge what you’re letting go of. It could be a hurt, a habit, a relationship, a home, or a dream. The list is endless. Much like Hannah’s couch, whatever haunts you the most probably wasn’t easy coming in, and won’t be any easier getting out because you have to face it and sit with it before you can actually release it.
When we surrender to Christ, we’re all new beings but that’s just the beginning. We still have to ask ourselves, “What exactly do I want to bring with me.” In Matthew 9:16 Jesus explains this process, “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Despite being ‘new beings,’ we‘ll still show signs of wear and tear. Even Jesus has scars. We wear them with honor though, not to memorialize our pain, but to glorify our healing and our Healer.
Much like Hannah is relying on movers, there are times we need to lean on others to do the heavy lifting for us. That’s why fellowship is such an integral aspect of Christianity. We have others to walk us through the process. It’s a reciprocal relationship because then we, in turn, do the same for others. Our pain becomes our message of help and hope. It’s a Divine transaction.
Like I said, I wasn’t feeling particularly ‘lucky’ when we were approved for the apartment. On the other hand, our spiritual board approval is certainly something to feel privileged about. Someone actually chose to grossly overpay for a grossly unworthy soul. Who wouldn’t feel blessed? As the song goes, “Such a crazy way to save the world.” Even so, an act of sacrifice like that begs for a response.
My father once told me that the truest thing he could say about love was that it was a response to being loved. How you choose to respond to God’s extravagant love is crucial because it's there that the power exists to change ourselves, our family, our community and our world. All God desires is for us to choose to love sacrificially with joy and intention. He will take care of the rest.
A morning prayer for those of you choosing a fresh start today.