January 24, 2011
Bill, my eighty eight year old friend, experienced a transformation this week. After three years of cleaning his mobile home and never seeing results, he finally agreed to replace the flooring. He lives alone, is considered legally blind (although can see some distance) and is unaware of the filthy condition of his home. He has no family, so he has become a part of ours. I used to visit every few months, but now it has become weekly. I make sure he has food in the refrigerator, that the dates are still good, and that his laundry is done. He is proud of his ability to remember dates, facts and figures and he has a VERY sharp mind. I help him write out his bills because writing is difficult for him.
Being old school, he is adamant in calling my husband Don to ask permission if he can take me to lunch. If we go somewhere together, he rushes to open the door for me. He walks proudly with his chest out and his head held high even though he stumbles. He will not do anything unless HE pays. If a project is done around his house he demands a receipt because he doesn’t take kindly to gifts. He calls me every day to give me Bible verses to read. Sometimes that is at 4:00am, or 6:00am or if I’m lucky at 8:00am. It makes my day!
He can be ornery at times, but who can’t? Three years ago, I had invited him to Thanksgiving and he said, “No, holidays are for family!” I smiled at him and told him I was coming over anyway to get him that day. When I knocked on his door that morning, he opened the door, repeated, “Holidays are for family and I am not family!” and slammed the door in my face. I drove home in tears. Not so much for being treated so abruptly, but because he was alone and had no family. Thank goodness that has changed. He is part of our holidays now.
This last week, while he was at Loma Linda for a doctor’s visit, Don’s sub-contractor replaced all the flooring. His group of workers came in, removed the furniture, pulled up old flooring and prepared the surface for new. As they pulled everything out, it gave me a chance to clean EVERY SURFACE! It was so rewarding. A broken toilet was replaced, his garbage disposal repaired, cupboard hinges fixed and brand new flooring throughout. I even had the awesome opportunity to replace his filthy recliner with a new used one for $45.00. They put the new floor down, put all the furniture back and then were long gone. It was all done in four hours! He came home a little sooner than expected and sat in his new chair. All he could say was it smelled so much better. He even rewarded me with a kiss on the cheek.
While working on this transformation, I began thinking about difficult situations that family’s encounter. First, I share the situation or action and then the family parallel.
1. NEW FLOORING – NO amount of bleach, scrubbing and scrapers could remove the build-up of grime and neglect. The only solution was out with the old and in with the new. As a family, we are sometimes in the same predicament. No amount of re-hashing, re-this or re-that is going to fix the problem. They need to just agree from this day forward that they are tossing the hurt and loss out the door, and beginning this day with a new resolve to be a family and friends. Just as Bill’s home took on a fresh new outlook, so should we.
2. COBWEBS – Neglect had allowed cobwebs to accumulate. Taking the Shop vac I sucked up every cobweb, intentionally removing the evidence of neglect. As a family, you cannot allow cobwebs (wrong thinking) the chance of gathering or lingering. If they appear, they need to be immediately removed.
3. REPLACED TOILET – It was obvious that there was something wrong on the inside, because the toilet did not sit right, but it was not evident on the outside. Only when detached, could we see the serious problem. The floor underneath was broken, so we had to purchase a metal flange to place on top of the damaged floor. Then we were able to re-attach a new toilet. As a family, we may have broken places inside. You cannot see or fix mine, as I cannot see or fix yours, but the Lord can. If we walk with Jesus, we need to leave the fixing up to Him. Each of us as an individual needs to work with the Lord on our own personal stuff (not someone else’s). Much like we could not ignore the problem with the toilet, we cannot stand around observing brokenness and not deal with it. It is time repair the damage so that our lives can truly be a testimony of God’s grace.
4. CHAIR LEG – When the flooring was done and the furniture replaced, the kitchen table was scooted across the new floor and right smack in the middle of the kitchen was a gouge! Unknown to us, there was a sharp piece of wood protruding from a chair leg. All this work had been achieved and now it was ruined because it was right in the middle of the kitchen! The contractor came back in and put glue behind the flap, then massaged the piece until it fit and matched once again. As a family, you may experience a gouge now and then. You can either throw a fit and say, “Everything is ruined!” or let Jesus be the glue that binds you back together. It is imperative that you take things lightly and not personal giving the glue time to adhere and fix the gouge.
5. CABINETS – Bill’s cabinets are old, ugly, thin plywood sheeting which have numerous hinges broken. We fixed what we could, but the cabinets had to remain. Brand new ones would have been nice, but it was not possible. Therefore, we are making the best with what we have. As a family, we have what we have. It was never a mistake to which family you were born in, the birth order, or even your name. So take the variety you have and make the best of it. We can never start with a new family, so let’s consider that we have “Cash in the Attic!” Make your family important and valuable.
May I suggest as the family unit continues to disintegrate around us, that we take the time and effort to transform our own family relationships? Do what is necessary to fix the broken places. Be forgiving. Let things go. Purpose in your heart to do what YOU can do to bring restoration. Finally, pray without ceasing!