Almost ten years ago, my husband and I bought a foreclosed house. There was not one wall inside that did not need remodeling of some kind. There were many refining moments throughout the process. We even realized we do not like the same colors. Our choices did not even align on color wheels!
We have worked so hard to make this home functional yet elegant. My husband has a growing list of ideas to continue improving this place as our family grows. He always seems to see the beauty in every worn-out place we discover. I love that about him. In fact, I highly recommend taking on a gigantic, impossible project when you first get married.
Last spring, we finished our basement, moved the stairs, and almost completed a small front entryway addition. Just like every other big project we do on the home, 25 little projects have been left undone. The new addition is in one color palate, and the rest of the home is still in the old color palate. There is no trim in the addition, and there are even some light fixtures that need to go up.
I found myself getting frustrated this weekend watching “everyone else” making major updates on their homes or at least planning them. Losing my income seven weeks ago means we can’t move as fast as I had expected. I began to go down the debilitating path of comparison.
Have you ever heard about the Bad News Bear? He always brings stories of disappointment. I have made conscious efforts during this last month to really avoid speaking negatively or allowing unworthy thoughts into my headspace. However, I forgot all about the Despair Bear! Letting him creep out of his cave and into my life allowed his claws of jealousy to hook me. I looked around for TOO long and started to let myself compare my situation to those around me. If you don’t know, the Despair Bear feeds off of comparison. Let me tell you first hand – it is worse than the Bad News Bear.
I let myself forget about how much we have accomplished on our house. The worst part was, I then began to forget how much we have accomplished IN our house. We have worked through some really tough stuff to be where we are in our family and our marriage.
I am not proud of how I began to respond to my husband, demanding that we work faster and harder on the things that “needed” to get done. He challenged me to take a breath, and it was then that I realized my gratitude was gone. I had allowed comparison to fully engulf all that I was grateful for.
I stepped back, asked for his forgiveness, and began to remind myself how incredible life really is. Relisting the things that I am grateful for not only forced the despair bear to leave, but it also cultivated excitement for friends who are experiencing more updates and remodeling with their spouses.
I cherish these times with my husband, even when we have to argue and negotiate for a finished product. There is so much refining in the process of updating a home. Instead of being frustrated that the space is not ready to be used, I am grateful that others around me are able to make expansive progress. Some of them, for the first time!
Each day holds a gift. We each get to decide if we want to shake off the sawdust and open it.
Toni Schafer is a Nationally Certified Sign Language interpreter with four children 6 and under. She has a passion to serve people with chronic disease, acute illness, and mental fatigue due to past events and trauma. You can find more writing and personal connection with Toni at www.tonischafer.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.