They took the roof off of our house last week.
And by “literally”, I don’t mean “figuratively” in the way that people misuse the word all the time either. I mean, the entire roof was most literally and legitimately knocked square off of the foundation and covered the front yard in a mess of boards and shingles. Even the decorative front lintel over the porch was all in a crushed up pile where the front door used to be.
And then all that mess just sat there in the front yard for over a week.
The company that was supposed to bring the dumpsters was two weeks behind schedule and so our house sat covered by the mess of all messes. You couldn’t even tell that the house was still there.
Turns out that the roof was the worst that one our contractor’s crews had ever removed. Over the years it had built up quite the heavy duty covering, and unbeknownst to any of us until they started trying to cut through it, there were five layers of shingles on that old roof.
Our contractor, Robert, told us that would amount to more than 1500 pounds of asphalt per ten foot square, and that there’s no real good reason the roof had held up as long as it had with all that mess weighing it down. It was sort of a marvel that it had happened and even survived as it was for as long as it had.
The demolition crew went through more than 50 saw blades in two days to get it all off, which interestingly enough they told us, is what they typically go through in an entire year. All to say, removing the roof was apparently a beast of a task which left a beast of a mess.
The day that it was all completely removed, I walked around front and just stood there looking at it for awhile. I’d never quite seen anything like it. The roof was just gone, and what remained inside was a hot mess of wood and dirt and then rain on top of really old insulation. It looked like cotton candy once you’ve licked it and the sugar melts in on itself and all goos together, except that it was brown and seemed somehow depressing and hopeful all at once.
As I stood there just silently taking in the wreckage, a still small voice (that has felt awfully silent to me this year) decided to speak up for the first time in a long time.
“Funny how sometimes to make something wonderful and new, you have to blow off the roof and gut the whole thing so that it can be great for the next bunch of decades.”
I haven’t heard that old familiar voice in awhile. Perhaps it has been overpowered by all the sounds of demolition reverberating through the halls of my heart this year. It’s been a season where the roof seemed to be blown off of my life, but it wasn’t until I was standing and surveying actual, literal wreckage on our front lawn, that I realized sometimes there has to be a mess to make way for something better.
Sometimes there has to be a mess… to make way for something better.
Because the truth is that I’ve spent the better part of the past year feeling simply uncomfortable. Nothing has gone like I thought or planned…hardly a single thing, in fact. So many of my big dreams have felt broken, displaced, and even ripped completely out of my hands. Honestly, I’ve been left wondering what’s left of me when I’m not holding anything much to show for what I can do.
One question tickles often around my ear and asks, “If I don’t do enough, can I still be enough?” And while I know the correct answer in my head, apparently sometimes it takes a literal roof on the lawn to point out that there’s more to this plan than what meets the eye.
Because sometimes you have to blow off the whole roof and gut the whole thing so that the whole house can be made new.
A friend looked at the hot mess that is our house the other day and said, “doesn’t it totally stress you out to see it like this?”
And all I could think was “No! I am so stinking excited! The more walls they bang down, the more I can see the way it opens up! The more they tear apart, the more I can envision where we are going!…and where we are going to end up is AWESOME!”
I can see it, and I’m excited about it… because I know the plan.
I. Know. The. Plan.
To her it just looked like a hot mess of nails and boards and insulation covering the house and my lawn.
But when you know the plan for the end, the mess in the middle is just how you to get to the good stuff.
I had lunch with a precious mentor friend recently. As I was sharing my excitement and some of the truths that the small voice is speaking to me loudly again, she said to me, “you know, all I kept thinking while you were talking was that sometimes God wants to take off the ceiling so you can see how limitless the sky can be.”
Sometimes he has to knock off decades of heavy shingles that weigh us down so that we can see how limitless the sky can be.
I can barely breathe at the thought of how God must feel just like I do with this house when he looks at us.
We stand in a yard and survey what is often the wreckage of our life. It feels so damned UNCOMFORTABLE because we can’t see what any of it is supposed to be.
All we see is a giant mess of junk, without a dumpster to hold it all for ages. Sometimes, it’s so bad that you can’t even tell the house is there anymore. We see wet insulation, buckled old wood, and plaster crumbled around antiqued wall joists. The only scent that tickles our nostrils is of mildew and mold from the rains that won’t stop pouring into the roofless house. And it is a hot, freaking mess of junk heaped all over everything.
Nothing is recognizable anymore.
But God stands there and breathes a sigh of relief. Because he knows that while we think he just removed our heavily armored roof, he actually just lifted a ceiling and allowed the light to shine in again.
He knows that where there was hardly space to move well in a kitchen before, there’s going to be a big island that will invite others to gather around the action of a stove and fill their bellies with stuff that will stay with them for awhile. He knows that tearing out all the guts will bring old, faulty wiring up to code that is better for us. He knows how to change plumbing that has begun to crumble and leak where it shouldn’t. He knows what to do because he knows the end goal. He knows the plan.
And sometimes you have to remove years worth of ceiling in order to make the sky the limit.
There’s still so much that I don’t know…with this house or with this life right now. But what I do know is that this is the first time I’ve even wanted to write anything at all in months. I know that I hear the familiar soft voice again, and that it showed up when I stood surveying wreckage all around me and let myself feel hopeful about what was to come.
I don’t have to know the plan, because I know the heart of the planner… and for the first time in a long time again, I find myself simultaneously excited and at peace with all that I can’t possibly know.