“Good morning.” The woman smiled as I approached.
“Hi.” My grin spread wide across my face. I padded past her across polished grey concrete. A gentle, cooling breeze wafted down from enormous ceiling fans. My chest rose and fell as I breathed deeply, grateful to be here again. This was the place of dreams. A world where possibilities were endless.
The hardware store.
Whenever I walk through the entrance of this hallowed warehouse my stomach flutters in excitement.
It’s crazy, really.
I don’t have the skills to do half the things I dream of when I walk along the shining aisles. Still, my response is always the same.
I’m wired for transformation.
Makeovers lure me like nothing else. From gardening books to home renovation shows, I’m drawn in, filled with wonder at the way a few, seemingly simple changes can make something completely new.
Whether we’re seeking to lose weight, change our hairstyle, revamp our wardrobe or switch careers, aren’t we all trying to improve our lives?
This is the time of year where all our desires and good intentions get stirred up. We finish one year reflecting on all that’s been. And maybe all that hasn’t. Giving thanks and perhaps feeling regret. Sad to let go of the special season we’ve been in. Or perhaps relieved to turn the page on hard times and start fresh.
Perfectionism flows steadily in my veins. I’ve launched into many Januarys with a list of silent vows – to complete a major project, to be a more patient mum, a more loving wife, to have more balance in my time use. The year lies stretched before me, full of potential. Sometimes I achieve my goals, at least in part. Often the day-to-day realities of life gently nudge my high ideals off their pedestal.
The year rarely turns out the way I imagine.
Not worse, necessarily.
I’m thankful to have a husband who’s so diligent in seeking God. He’s big on taking time out, especially in January, to wait on our Maker. To see – over and above our big ideas – what God’s plans are for the year. This man’s loving example has thrown perfectionist-me a lifeline.
That retreat time – a few hours during our summer holidays – has become the foundation for my year, the bedrock on which the following months are built. In God’s loving presence I’ve been able to reflect on the previous twelve months and gain some perspective. Often He’s given me a whiff of what the year ahead will hold or counselled me about specific areas. The words I record in my journal that day get pulled out many times through the year. They’re my anchor when times get tough, a source of perspective and hope.
Sometimes God says, “Get ready”. Sometimes He says, “Step out.” Sometimes He says, “Let go.”
Always He says, “Rest”; always He says, “Trust” – words that wrap lovingly around my heart and bring a sigh of relief.
Here’s what I’m learning: I can make changes to my outer life – my appearance, my wardrobe, my time use.
But inner transformation – the kind that matters most – begins in the heart. A place that only God can reach.
I can struggle and strive to improve my character – to be more patient, more loving, more courageous. But, much like trying to fulfil my renovation dreams with my own limited understanding, I’m powerless to put my dreams of heart change into action.
God sees all my weaknesses. And He knows the best way and timing for change to happen. He is THE transformer.
“And we…are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
As I learn to wait on Him, to feed on His Word and walk in step with His plans, He goes quietly about His work, chopping off a bit here, adding a bit there. Sometimes without me even realising. He’s changing me, starting with my heart. Perfectionist striving is being replaced by waiting and resting.
And that, I must say, is even more exciting than walking into a hardware store.