Pedro and I dive into a disaster zone and discover the previous owner hoped to fix it with carpet cleaner and baking soda.
*I first published this post in over a year ago, but I’m reposting it today to kick off a series about change. If you’re like me, you might struggle with certain changes. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about change, myself, and patience with the process. Next week, I’ll share some before, during, and after photos of our disaster zone!
All-in for Transformation
“Look what I found,” Pedro said with a grin. He held up a bottle of carpet cleaner and a Costco-sized bag of baking soda.
“As if,” I giggled (almost hysterically), “those two things would make a dent in this disaster!” My body ached all over, and we’d only spent one day working on renovating an investment property the Realtor had warned us was in ‘bad shape.’
An acquaintance of his wanted to get out of the rental business. When his tenants moved out, he started to clean up and quickly lost heart for the endeavor. Three weeks later, we were the proud (?) owners of a summer project—aka, disaster zone.
The day before, we’d had our first look at the condo.
“The Realtor wasn’t lying,” I told Pedro after we had the keys and stopped by to assess the project together. “I can’t wait to see how it turns out,” I enthused. Partly to reassure him and mostly to prop up my sagging spirits.
We entered in silence, and I gave him the grand tour. “It sure does stink in here,” he said. “Let’s make a list of what we need to fix or replace.”
I pulled out my phone and opened my notes app. Relief washed through me. Despite the smell and the disaster zone, Pedro was all in. He, too, could envision a cozy, clean, transformed condo.
Carpet Cleaner and Baking Soda Won’t Fix This Problem
By the end of the next day, it seemed we had barely made a dent in the disaster. The garage door had a new spring, I’d scrubbed the oil stains out of the garage floor, and Pedro had removed all the doors.
On the third day, Pedro found the baking soda and carpet cleaner. The irony. Previous tenants had smoked—and not just cigarettes. The woodwork stank like weed. Almost every door in the place had a hole in it—some at toddler height, some higher up.
We knew we’d need to paint and replace toilets, vanities, and do something with the doors. The walls sported crayon and permanent marker scribbles. The carpet looked like it had never met a vacuum cleaner. Porcelain tubs had bare metal wounds.
What had we gotten ourselves into? Carpet cleaner and baking soda would do nothing to transform this place.
In the Throes of Waiting
Pedro (the chief fixer and handyman of our dauntless duo) had only two weeks of vacation in June and two more in July. Our renovation project had a deadline. But as we tried to fit demolition in-between time with our grandson, stress stalked us.
The dumpster wouldn’t show up until Friday. Carpet layers couldn’t come until July. The stench made us want to turn around and walk back out each time we opened the door.
“The windows should arrive in about eight weeks,” the salesman told us.
“Eight weeks?” I exclaimed. When the windows showed up in Alaska, we’d be back in Arizona, welcoming students to a new school year. Pedro and I looked at each other in dismay.
“It’s Alaska,” the salesman said with a shrug. “The factory will have them done in five weeks, but then they’ll have to ride a barge up here.
When we returned to the car, Pedro looked at me and said, “We won’t finish this summer.”
All my blithe plans of rehabbing a condo and renting it out in two months vanished. “I know,” I shrugged. “What will we do?”
“I think we need to just slow things down,” he said. “It’s ok if we wait. I’d rather not feel pressure to get it all done by August. We can come back up in November and install the windows. I’d rather have time to play with Abel and not feel stressed about it.”
“You’re right,” I said. Suddenly, the grime and squalor didn’t seem so terrible. I didn’t have to clean it all at once. Instead, I could make one small step each day.
The Road to Change
As I scrub and paint and watched one small area transform each day, I can’t help but think about how often I get impatient. I want to make changes in my life, but I want them to happen instantly (or within a set period and on a deadline). I think I can solve my problems with carpet cleaner and baking soda.
When I ask God to change my heart of stone regarding someone I have issues with, I want to feel warm fuzzies the next time I see that person. Instead, I must scrub away my attitudes and paint them with new thoughts. I must wait for the process.
When I want to make changes in my eating habits or exercise routines, I expect instant results. Instead, I must choose to eat a salad when my eyes crave a doughnut; I must put on my walking shoes instead of sinking into the sofa. I patiently wait for results as I instill new habits in my daily routines.
Transformation takes more than my puny efforts to use carpet cleaner and baking soda to reform my character and fit me for heaven. I can patiently wait while the Master Builder transforms my stink from the inside out.
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