Renovating Faith

renovationIn the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, friends of mine live in a beautiful ridge-top cabin. It has been their home for decades now, a retreat crafted in the early years of their “empty nest,” after their last child left for college. Much has changed over those decades – to them – and now, their home. 

You see, the empty nest did not stay that way. Along came a beloved foster child, then another, followed by an adoption. Before long, the first granddaughter arrived, and so it went. That small chalet on the ridge was bursting at the seams. Yet, my friends loved their home: The view, their small community, and the location. 

So, they decided to remodel instead of relocate. Walls were knocked down. A playroom was added. The office became a bedroom. And outside, the vegetable garden was replaced by a playground replete with rubber mulch to cushion to inevitable falls of their young, scrambling grandchildren. 

In the end, my friends essentially succeeded in building a new home within the existing footprint of the old one, while retaining everything they loved. Of course, the process was not completely painless. It took a good deal of money, time, and upheaval; for throughout the renovation process, my friends remained in their home.

This meant tasting a fair amount of fresh sawdust in each morning’s oatmeal for a while. It meant having their clothing covered in gypsum dust for weeks. They had to keep daily vigilance less they stumble into a coat of wet paint or down a relocated stairwell – not to mention the months-long parade of contractors, plumbers, and carpenters passing through their doors.

Some – myself included – have had a faith journey not unlike my friends’ remodeling job. We settled comfortably into what we believed, never expecting anything to change too much. But things did change: The world, our view of that world, our experiences and core beliefs.

Left cramped and suffocating, we had no choice but to renovate. The walls came tumbling down. The old decor went to the curb. There was massive deconstruction and demolition so something new could be built in the empty space. We remained in the house of faith as it were, but for a while it was a choking, dusty, disorienting mess with nothing as it was.

But what else can one do when facing a faith that simply doesn’t fit any longer? To accommodate the new construction, one must by time, unflinching courage, and at great cost make room for whatever is next – even if what is next sends what used to be to the dumpster.

My friends say their renovations were worth it. Their daughter has space to flourish; their young grandchildren fit the changes like fingers in a glove; and their home is more expansive, more welcoming, and more open than ever. A renovation of faith can accomplish the same end. So, when the time is right – and that time will come – don’t be afraid to make the changes that change requires.

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