In nine days our family is moving. This isn’t something we were planning to do this year. After all, 2020 isn’t exactly the ideal time to add additional stress and strain. It would’ve been easier to hunker down, ride out the storm, and leave the packing and moving to someone more ambitious.
But here we are. In less than two weeks, my husband and I will move our family from our house of twelve years to another house only twenty-five minutes away. Why, you ask? We have a heart for fixer-uppers. And this new home is precisely that.
It’s not much to look at — not yet, anyway. The previous owner moved out of the state over a year ago. Other than the rare check-in, it has sat vacant and unattended. And the impact of this year-long abandonment is obvious.
Yellowed grass. Faded paint. Weeds left to overgrow rock beds, patio stones, and take over the entire yard. A once-lovely fountain polluted with green sludge. And a rather large family of mice that are holding the garage hostage.
And that’s merely the exterior. The interior isn’t any better. Stained carpet. Damaged windows. Failing appliances.
This kind of disrepair didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s the result of a daily lack of attention. The funny thing about houses is that they require regular upkeep — the daily kind. Every day, I need to wipe off dirty kitchen counters or bacteria start to fester. If I ignore the bathroom for more than a week, the shower starts to mildew, and the toilet starts to stain. And if my kids forget to take out the garbage? The fragrance reminds us tomorrow.
As I was taking in this abandoned and needy house, I couldn’t help but take stock of my tendency to neglect the home of my heart. I nurture hurts and disappointments, rehashing words said and wrongs done as if replaying them will make me feel better. I fail to confess the critical comments I’ve muttered and the prideful thoughts I’ve pondered, letting them outgrow the kindness and compassion and mercy I claim to prize. And unforgiveness? Well I can ignore that for years if I want to.
The result? Garbage, weeds, disrepair. The funny thing about the heart is that it requires daily upkeep, too. It can’t wait for spring cleaning or even Sunday. And, unlike a home, I can’t hire out its care. It requires attention — my attention. Daily weeding, daily nurture, daily cleaning, and airing out. When I abandon the responsibility for too long? The fragrance is telling — to me and to those I encounter.
If only I put as much daily attention into the status of my spirit as I did the care of my face and hair! Rarely will I jump on a work meeting or video interview without spending a half hour perfecting my appearance. And yet, too often I dive into my days and to-dos without even ten minutes of inspecting my heart.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
As the ground is the source of new life — whether gardens or weeds — the heart is the source of our lives. If we don’t tend it, day after day, we may not like what grows. So what does it mean to “guard your heart”? Here are a few questions I’m learning to consider as a way of closely tending the home of my heart:
- Did I acknowledge my absolute need and dependence on God today?
- Have I said or done anything to anyone for which I need to apologize or make right?
- Is there a wound or hurt that I’m hanging on to?
- Is there a person whom I have not yet forgiven?
Yes, in nine days we’re moving. It will take months of hard work and daily tending to turn the abandoned house into a place we can call home. Even so, I believe the effort will be good for my heart. Turns out, God has a thing for fixer-uppers, too. And may He guide my hands and tend my heart so my life looks like the home He designed, a garden swelling with vibrant life.Leave a Comment