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I have a very vivid memory of being about 3 or 4 years old and sitting in junior Sunday School. We were practicing for a program and learning songs that we would sing. The room where we met looked like the main chapel except the pews were small for our little bodies to be comfortable. There were tall windows along either side of this “mini chapel” and on this particular morning the sun was streaming in the windows with the kind of rays that seem tangible. I was mesmerized by the rays of light and all the little things that danced in them. Just as I am today, I was drawn to the wonderful visual artistry in the everyday and mundane that was before me.
It was at that moment that I can remember knowing that I had a Heavenly Father that was real. I could see Him clearly in my mind. I knew He loved me. I knew from that point on that regardless of what churned around me, He was there. And He would always celebrate little things with me—little things like the beauty of those rays of sunlight.
Looking back, I know that early knowledge was given to me so that I could survive the tough things I faced in my difficult paradoxical childhood. I was fortunate to have a mother that loved to create beautiful moments of discovery and learning for her children regardless of our circumstances. She fostered my creativity despite being quite overwhelmed with a little child that was constantly thinking of “big picture” things. Those times of childhood discovery became the joyful little blips that I connected one with another—bridging over the tumult of everything else that was going on in our lives.
Fast-forward almost 30 years, when I married my best friend and the love of my life. With him by my side I was navigating new territory for me. I was in a safe and nurturing relationship that was full of the healthy exchanges that a good marriage has its share of. I was learning how to do all of this without much personal experience to draw upon. And in the midst of that safety and security, my hardest and most difficult childhood memories came to the forefront after I had successfully suppressed them from my consciousness for decades. Like deep wounds that hadn’t been able to fully heal, I was finally in a place in my life where I could tend them appropriately so they could heal over once and for all.
When our physical bodies suffer from a deep infection, it is necessary to open and uncover it all; take the measures necessary to sterilize the affected tissue; and then let the long slow process of deep healing begin. That’s what had to happen on an emotional level for me. And because the process has to be long and slow for the deep healing to actually occur, I had to learn how to find joy in the small things—to celebrate precious little “victories” in the mundane beauty around me, just as I had when I was 3 or 4 years old. I also had to rely heavily on the one core truth that I’d known almost my whole life—I had a Heavenly Father who was real and who loved me. And He would celebrate those little mundane victories with me.
Because all of this was happening simultaneously with the restoration of Rosehaven Cottage, I was constantly finding the remodeling process to be a literal extension of my own internal healing process. I am prone to find analogies in everyday life, so I was really making some analogous connections amidst all the work.
There were times that the demolition got downright scary. This was particularly true when Josh had to start demolition in the kitchen. Even though it pained us greatly to have to tear out vintage ceramic tile, we knew that the “wounds” underneath couldn’t be healed unless we did.
Set in 3-inch thick beds of heavy-duty mortar, the counter tiles were not easily removed. If the cabinets and the rest of the kitchen had been as solid and firm as those counter tops, we wouldn’t have had to remove and replace them. These counter tops were a lot like the adult life I had built for myself prior to getting married at 31 years old. I was solid and firm on the surface—some probably would have used the term “rock solid”. But my solid and firm adult life was built on an insufficient base that wasn’t going to stand the test of time. Both the counter tops and me had to be torn down to uncover the deep “infections” lying underneath the surface so real healing could occur.
With crowbar and sledgehammer in hand, Josh took on the counter tops with zeal and vigor. He loves destroying things (especially when he has permission). I stayed out of the room because the flying pieces of tile and mortar were freaking me out. Hubby was braver than I and stepped into the room periodically to snap some action shots of the “Demolition Master” at work.
When the dust cleared, I was horrified at the mess that had been created. How in the world were we going to put this all back together again?
The rubble pile in the garage just kept growing and we weren’t doing much except adding to it. It seemed so overwhelming most of the time.
During those times, I would celebrate the small mundane victories like having all the dust and debris swept up so that I could see the subfloor. It was (and still is) those mundane victories that give me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. If I told myself that I couldn’t be satisfied or feel a sense of accomplishment until EVERYTHING was done and perfect, I’d live my entire life feeling empty, discouraged and unsatisfied.
The word “perfect” comes from the Latin root word “perfectus” which literally means, "completed, finished”. If I expect EVERYTHING in my life to me perfect and enforce the requirement that EVERYTHING must be completed and finished before I’m going to be happy and live my life, I will never be happy. I will never truly live. But if I find happiness and satisfaction in small mundane victories that can be beautifully completed and finished, thus achieving perfection in the true meaning of the word "perfect", than I have discovered the secret of a happy life.
The challenge is to not let myself go back to the old “everything has to be done” mindset and to remind myself constantly that the joy is in the journey and not in reaching the destination.
The best way to remember that is to turn to my Heavenly Father for the guidance and perspective only He can give. And then He will provide me with soft, sweet and gentle nudges so I can see and celebrate the little victories in the mundane things around me--little victories that He will always celebrate with me.
Just some of the little mundane victories during August and September 2000...