We’re heading into month 3 of the renovation of the house we purchased back in December. It has been a long and arduous road and although we are approaching the home stretch, experience tells us that this next few weeks won’t be without its drama and headaches. And this week is no exception.
The week began with promise and the light at the end of the tunnel. Our terrazzo floors, which run through the majority of the house, are being restored and polished. This is exciting in and of itself but it is doubly exciting because the floors are the final piece to the puzzle of us beginning to move in and claim the Virginia house as officially our own. We were assured that despite our home’s large size, that the job could be competed in 3-4 days leaving us this weekend to begin moving in furniture. So Greg took the weekend off, friends were guilted/pressured/coerced into giving up their Saturdays to help us out and the truck has been rented. And then, on a whim, Greg and I decided to stop by the house this morning just to check in and see how things were going.
Concern number one inched in when we pulled up and saw no activity outside the house. We walked in and realized there was only one lone worker chugging around the house and he had a problem. Problem number two entered the picture when the lone worker began to tell us that in all his many years of doing this, he had never had a floor as resistant to restoration as our main living room floor, which still despite 2 days of grinding and cleaning, refused to budge from its grimy yellow coloring. Problem number three flared up when we realized the reason he was at the house alone and not working under the fearless leader we had hired to deal with our floors was because the fearless leader had injured himself on a previous job and his two days on our job had already rendered him useless. He was trying to muster up the strength to pop over later to help. Which leads us to problem number four which was, you guessed it, this had put them way behind schedule. According to the lone ranger, a Saturday move in date is now almost impossible.
The worker asked me to pick up a few gallons of bleach as a hail Mary for these blasted living room floors and as Greg and I walked to our cars, Greg said, “Man, this is a disappointing morning.” I thought, “Wow! What an adult way to express that! Disappointing. Yes, that is how I feel and that is a great grown up way to feel so I will accept this as what I am feeling and move on with the rest of the day.”
Greg got into his car to drive to work and I drove to the Home Depot to acquire the bleach that was needed to help our sad yellow floor. I applauded myself the whole way there for handling my disappointment in such a dignified and respectful way and was still patting myself on the back while I walked in to the Home Depot…and while I scoured the bleach aisle (no pun intended)…and while I realized that what our worker had asked for was nowhere to be found. I tried talking to the Home Depot guy. He didn’t know what I was talking about. I tried texting the head floor honcho about whether this product had another name but no response. I called Lowe’s to see if they had any clue. Nope. I drove back to the house to ask the lone ranger what the mother love he wanted, just to realize he had not actually seen the product in years so he sent me back to the Home Depot to pick up the bleach they did sell there.
I held on to my “disappointment” all the way back to Home Depot and all the way back to the house again. At this point my disappointment was beginning to crack a little ways towards frustration but I held it in check as I dropped off the bleach and then proceeded to listen to all the reasons the lone ranger had come up with as to why a Saturday move in had moved from a “long shot” to a “not at all going to happen” while I was making my two trips to the store.
I politely said goodbye to the lone ranger and climbed back in my car to finish the rest of my morning. I made it to the end of the street before I blew up in a full blown, cussing, steering wheel banging temper tantrum. I howled and I hissed and I yelled at God for a while…because clearly this is His fault…and finally I just kind of screamed and cried. And all the while, all of those years of Bible verses and Sunday schools and sermons were piling up in my mind, like a traffic jam of spiritual band-aids. And the rational Reagan had a whole long line of “But Gods” to throw at me.
“But God…” If I had a nickel for every time I had thrown an emotionally drowning friend a “but God” life ring, I would be furnishing our new home with all that West Elm has to offer. “I know it feels like you will never get married but God has a plan.” “I know you’re worried that finances are tight and you don’t know how to make next month’s rent, but God always provides.” “Cancer sucks, but God is a healer.”
I think we as fluent speakers of the English language have forgotten what the word “but” actually does in a sentence. “But” stands as a resolute contradiction to whatever just preceded it. And while it is true that God has a plan and He provides for us and He has been known to be a healer, none of those cold hard facts about God negate the cold hard emotions that we are feeling in the midst of the hardships in our lives.
I had begun to beat myself up for not trusting God enough or not believing in His goodness enough or not doing anything enough, that I had tried to use the word “but” to escape the very real disappointment and anger and sadness I was feeling about all of our plans spinning out in the matter of a few days. God doesn’t question my faith in Him simply because I’m angry that I can’t live in my house when I want to. In fact, I’m pretty sure God understands exactly how I feel and even though He can see into the future and see how little I will care about our move in date once we actually live there, He knows that in the present, I am feeling a lot of valid emotions about it and He’s ok with that.
Let’s not “but” ourselves to emotional death. Let’s use the right word there: “AND”.
I am sad and disappointed and angry and frustrated AND God knows that AND God is my provider and my healer and knows how this is all going to go down. Let’s give ourselves the freedom to feel the hard emotions all the way til the bitter end, knowing that our “AND” God is so way more realistic and enduring and empathetic than our “BUT God” we like to cling to.