It was December of 2016 and my final beloved grandparent had passed into the heavenly realm. I personally have found it difficult to endure the transition of grieving loss while simultaneously celebrating the life and legacy of a loved one. Grieving requires time for seeking restoration and healing. Particularly when it has been such a blessed joy to have the imprint of love forever stamped upon our heart from the one we have lost. Often-times I have found it helpful to partake in a strategy, of sort, to find that sought-after restoration for my own individual self.
Now it was time to wander through the wealth of valuables my grandparents had left behind. Furniture, collectives, jewelry, art, farm equipment, and more Christmas decorations than anyone should ever own–the vast expanse of material wares spoke to all 92 years worth of living and more. All that had been gifted, grown, nurtured, and collected from those vast years were piled together, gone through, with their value considered. Remnants speaking to a life lived from just before the Great Depression, thru World War II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Cold War were evident. What they had placed value in and all that was dispersed throughout the entirety of the estate was astonishing. My grandparents had left the imprint of not only a Christian spiritual legacy, but the heritage of a solid work-ethic, commitment, loyalty, wholeness, devotion, and appreciation for all the beauty contained in this world.
As I considered all these things, my eyes fell on an overlooked, dusty, and outdated dining buffet. I had looked at it countless times, but only now had it truly caught my attention. It seemed to beg for a second chance, seeking me out as if asking the question, “Can you imagine what I could become?” Upon deeper reflection, I considered turning the question toward myself, asking, “Can you imagine what you could become?” Should I decide to encourage the thought of restoring this particular piece of furniture.
This single thought was all it took for me to rent the storage trailer, clean out the buffet’s contents, and make the decision for this piece to become one of the family heirlooms that came home with me. Seeking to restore this dining room piece would, no doubt, be a cathartic project for bringing healing through the pain of grief and loss. Not only that, but I knew there would also be the opportunity for the birth of indescribable joy upon witnessing transformation, both in this piece and within my own spirit and soul.
Restoration will do that for a person. Moving through the phases of letting go of pain, grief, hopes, and/or dreams into a place of complete surrender is a restorative moment that can provide great hope–hope for the moment, and that everything is going to be alright, as well as the ability to once again place hope in the future and the promise of peace that lies ahead.
Consider how, at any given moment, we each have the amazing opportunity to take a step back, taking a closer look at our individual selves. We can reflect daily on how we are being held back by strongholds such as fear, anxiety, stubbornness, or doubt. Regularly, we have a choice to move forward in joy, exclaiming, “Oh what I could become!”
I found there was an opportunity to reflect on all the ways I was leaving a legacy, walking through transformative steps of restoring a family heirloom into a new, refurbished, trendy keepsake . Through these steps of re-furbishing and restoration, I had an opportunity to reflect on all that lay in my soul. Simultaneously, I found a level of healing from all that had recently brought so much pain.
Restoration Step: Cleaning
Quickly it became apparent more attention than a mere dusting would be needed for this piece of furniture. Gathering a damp, soapy cloth, I thoroughly wiped the piece down. Removing all cobwebs and dirt, I considered those dark places within my own heart. Seeing how dirty the soapy cloth and water were getting, I recognized how certain dark, hardened areas of my own heart were affecting my attitude. If restoration within my personal mindset were to be possible, some honest admission needed to occur. Truly, a degree of insolence and resentment needed to be acknowledged, for it was making my soul murky, and uninviting. Upon proclaiming the filth and negativity in my own attitude, realization dawned. I was now able to take steps of progress toward restoring the health of my spirit and soul. Through recognition, admission, and cleansing, I found release and the courage to let it all go.
Now that the furniture was gleaming and clean, deeper insight became apparent. With a sharp intake of air, the realization that the next step toward restoration was to start sanding. It dawned on me that all was about to get dirty and painful once again. Everything time-worn was about to be stripped away and laid bare. Old varnish and stain would be sanded away to reveal raw, fresh wood. It would be completely naked, vulnerable, and exposed. With a deep sigh, and a sound faith that all would be alright, I got to work sanding the old varnish from the dining buffet.
Refurbishing Step: Sanding
Oftentimes a furniture piece will only demand a limited amount of sanding. Chalk paint would be used over a bulk of this piece, and as a result, it would not require sanding before painting. Clarity of the deeper lesson within soon unfolded in my mind. Sometimes a light sanding off of our heart is all that is necessary for restoration. Likewise, our hearts may only need a minimal amount of honest assessment in order to be set on the right path again. Nevertheless, it would be considered wise for each of us to remember how, within those moments, when a more thorough admission to the depths of our depravity deems essential, its imperative to lean in and address issues. Honestly, nothing good ever comes from running away from issues or reality before us. Growth, healing, and wholeness are only possible when all is faced head-on with courage, bravery, and love.
I found it difficult to suppress the joy I felt over proceeding to the transformative step of applying paint. Excitement grew as progress in the restorative journey was becoming evident. The renovation was about to become evident for all. With each stroke of the brush, visions of what the piece would become took on clarity in my mind’s eye. Peace and joy inevitably bubbled up within my soul, and I reveled in the moment. This was a time for rejoicing, as restoration was within sight. Consequently, this piece of furniture was becoming more beautiful than it had been before. Similarly, my heart and soul were being transformed from the inside out. All was the result of embracing hurt, pain, and distress, and consciously letting it go. Subsequently, transformation and restoration were made possible.
Restoration Step: Staining
Now was the time to focus on the section of wood that had been freshly sanded. It was clean, dry, and ready to accept stain. A soft rag, and a dab of stain were all it took to begin the application process. Absorbed by the wood, it quickly became apparent how it would take minimal effort for the wood to yield itself to the stain. A golden hue began to resonate through the grain of the wood as the strokes blended into one another. A smile began to unfold as my spirit yielded, allowing my heart to soften to the rekindling of childhood memories. As I reflected, giving thanks over such sweet recollections, my emotions blended from that of confusion and pain to golden hues of trust, acceptance, and rest.
Taking a step back, giving thanks for all that had been restored and endured; I exclaimed with joy and gratitude over having arrived at this moment. Allowing the surface to dry, it occurred to me how this was a lot like resting upon God’s Sovereignty. In choosing to receive and accept His grace, I can trust how His way guides through the extension of His unconditional, eternal love.
Final Step: Wax
The transformation was nearly complete. All that was left was to apply the layer of wax over the chalk paint and secure the hardware. These were the only steps that stood between an unfinished piece and a completely transformed one. Dabbing wax onto a soft cloth, I gently buffed it into the chalk paint. Gingerly, and one small section at a time, I applied the wax. I watched as the color and sheen were brought out through the layer of wax.
Finding a screwdriver, I attached each hinge, knob, and door-pull. Upon the final turn, I stepped back and looked at all that was finished. All the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears culminated into this single moment. Awareness dawned and I reveled in all that was once tired and worn and how it had transformed into something of splendor. Considering all that could have been lost, affection and sentiment grew within my soul.
Memories flooded into my mind as I reflected on the nurturing given to this piece of furniture. Similarly, I recalled the many ways my grandmother had tenderly nurtured me through the years. This sensation overflowed into every facet of my being, allowing me to experience a fullness of joy. Truly an heirloom, now all was restored. Struck by the sheer beauty of it all, once again this furniture piece, as well as my own self, would shine and fulfill their purpose. We would each stand to declare the legacy of devotion carried from generation to generation.
May you and I pursue and receive the valuable lessons waiting for us upon stepping into a season of restoration. Above all, may we embrace, receive, accept, and grow with it as it unfolds before us. What stands in the wake of it all is sheer beauty, splendor, grace, and blessed transformation.