Monday, January 17, 2011

What Does Re-decorating Have to Do With Grief?

     In the summer before Bruce died, on calm, warm evenings we'd walk every now and then down Riverside Drive, the street our house was cornered on. I was burned out and had given notice I was quitting my job at the insurance agency I worked at, so Bruce and I naturally discussed the future and the next step.
     We were not ones given much to impressions or intuitions, but this time we both strongly felt that the next step to take was to get the house ready.
     Neither one of us knew what that meant--get the house ready--but we knew that was the next thing we needed to do. I felt a stab of fear at the thought: being married to a pastor, I wondered if we would be called to another church. I loved where we were at: the kids were in good schools, we had recently purchased the house, we loved our church. But there were no offers for a new pastorate; nor was Bruce looking for any. We were settled and content. Get the house ready didn't seem very timely.
     Months later, in January, get the house ready began to take on some meaning. Bruce heard about an interior decorator we could hire for only $20/hour. I met with her and found a color scheme, curtain ideas, wallpapers and paint. I scheduled the decorator to meet with a carpenter at my house on my birthday so they could discuss some projects she suggested.
     And then Bruce died the night before my birthday.
     I hadn't thought to call and cancel the decorator and carpenter, so they showed up to a house of mourning. They must have thought I was nuts when I opened the door, explained what had happened, and asked them to come in to do what they needed to do in spite of everything.
     And that's what they did. They met together in one room, while I cried in another. Soon, in the weeks to come, my house was stripped of its old paisly beige wallpaper, ripped bare and scraped like my soul.
     As it slowly got put back together---as the walls were smoothed and freshly painted with warm earthtones and windows were framed with tailored curtains and draperies, the transformation was a comfort and encouragement. A metaphor materialized before my very eyes--God was redecorating me, too.
     In II Kings 20:1, the Lord said to King Hezekiah, "Set your house in order . . ." I read those words the other day and have been haunted by how similar they were to get the house ready.  
     We didn't ever realize Bruce was about to die, but God did. He told us what we needed to know. No more, no less. Step by step God was leading and showing the way.
     Do you have some redecorating happening in your life today?


  1. Interesting. D always wanted a tile shower so I am having that done - that is happening now. We still have the condo that D had before we were married and that is getting a facelift starting next week in preparation for sale. I needed to pick out counter tops for the wee kitchen - I ended going with the color D and I picked when we had talked before he died - even though it may not be a sale feature! Who knows, I may like the place so much when it is finished I will keep it! But I doubt it as I just don't use the place enough to warrant the cost of keeping it.

    In retrospect there were many things God was preparing me for prior to D's death, interesting conversations etc.

    D's work was finished but mine is obviously not - I am still here! Interesting sermon - our work is to glorify, bring glory to God. Do people look at me, my life and think of God. No.

    Having your husband die just before your birthday - what extra sad timing. Mind you birthdays aren't such looked forward to events as we get older!

  2. Cicero, what I see of your life is a profound sense of surrender and acceptance. You might not see that, but it brings me a wonder and awe at how you live out God's grace.
    And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who had remodeling work! Good luck with the contractors and sale!
    I did postpone my birthday that year and my like-a-sister-to-me cousin flew out from Chicago to celebrate it with me a couple months later (her idea, and it was a good one).
    Feb has been a roller coaster month for both Tom and I as many personal and eventful anniversaries happen to clog together Feb 13-17, but by now the dates are far more precious than painful.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts today!

  3. What an amazing God-incidence! I think God used our infertility to draw me back to Him. When Michael was diagnosed with kidney cancer, I was already leaning on the Lord and seeking His will in my life. I have continued to do so since then.

  4. That's so cool, Joannah, to look back and see how God strengthened and prepared you for the road ahead. I felt like that too, as Cicero said, "Many things God was preparing me for." Interesting! I wonder if many others had that experience now as they look back...

  5. God has a way of setting the scene.Jake's illness did not come as a shock to me.I had this feeling,that I needed to prepare myself for difficult times,with the assurance of Isaiah 43:2,that the fires would not consume me. Since Jake's passing I have made lots of little changes in the house to make it 'my' house instead of 'our' house.It seems to help me through the difficult times.Even rearranging some furniture makes a difference.

  6. I believe there is redecorating happening in my mind...God at work...

  7. Interesting. I think re-decorating has a lot to do with grief in my life right now. I am in the throes of giving our bedroom a complete makeover and am making many changes in some other rooms as well. It just became depressing for me to sleep in our room the way it was and I decided I needed to make my house into just house. I think this represents some healing and recognition of moving forward. If nothing else, I'll be grieving in a much more aesthetically pleasing environment!

  8. Yay, Wendy! Keep me posted and let me know if it turns out to have some significance in the days to come, too. Your words sound like some transformation is working itself out. I think everyone is, really, and this is an intriguing part of the puzzle.

  9. ferree - I credit both this post and cicero's comment for a really beautiful - I don't know, something - that happened for me yesterday. I don't really have words for it, and maybe there were lots of little pebbles piling up to contribute, but these two things helped so much, to help me even entertain the possibility that god and love prepared both of us, as much as was possible, for what was to come -
    Thank you
    ~ m


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