This Old Life

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I always been enamored with home improvement and DIY shows on television. It’s just remarkable how, with some hard work and know-how,  something old, broken and tired can be rejuvenated and turned into something new, functional and beautiful.

Life can be a lot like an old house. And I’ve been thinking a lot about my life lately. Looking at ways to better live as a whole, healthy person. That has been the drive behind my foray into minimalism, living with less, but it’s also caused me to think about the other areas where there is room for improvement. Making sure my beliefs and my behaviors are in agreement is at the top of the list.

When our actions are not lined up with the standards we claim to live by, we are like poorly maintained homes. It slowly tears away at the structure of our lives. I’m not just talking about the big things either, the harm they cause is usually pretty obvious. I’m talking about the little things. Even one small inconsistency can cause major damage. It’s like a small leak in the roof of a house, if left unchecked it slowly eats away the framework underneath; ruining plaster, rotting timbers, until the whole roof caves in and the house is unlivable. Or like a broken window that lets the elements from the outside world get inside the the room, decimating that space and slowly destroying the rooms around it. When we live in a state of  impatience, selfishness, rudeness, pride, greed or ungratefulness it slowly dismantles our lives. It causes us to treat others unfairly, to have a negative outlook on the world and to have a poor opinion of ourselves. It covers life in a hazy gloom. It’s depressing, demoralizing and discouraging. It robs us of joy and keeps us from being who we were truly created to be.

Fortunately, there is some good news. It is possible to restore a house, and a life. And just like in home renovation, there are certain things that must be done in our lives in order to make the repairs last.

First, we need to stop new damage from occurring. Fix the broken window, patch the leaky roof. Stop being impatient, show gratitude. It takes hard work and requires some special skills. Learn the skills. Do the work. If you don’t know how to be grateful, find someone who does and learn from them. You wouldn’t try to patch the roof without the proper knowledge or tools, so you certainly shouldn’t do that with your life. Once we have the threat of new damage under control, that frees us up to work on the harm that has already been done. We can repair the rot, fix the holes and clean up the debris. This is dirty, messy and sometimes humbling work. Maybe we need to admit failure or apologize. Sometimes repairs are expensive and we have to pay for them. And quite often while we are in the middle of rebuilding, things look hopeless and we feel like we are never going to finish the job. But when we keep pushing forward and do the hard work, the end result is more than worth it. The remodeled home looks fresh, inviting and beautiful. It’s a place you want to be. The restored life is lighter, richer and more joyful. It’s a life you want to live.

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