“Open during remodeling”, we have all seen the signs.
Our neighborhood grocery store has been open during its recent remodel. In fact, they are still remodeling and rearranging.
Every visit has been a new experience as aisles have been moved and exchanged in favor of newer fixtures and a promised improved layout. The grocery store’s goal is to make shopping more eye-catching and functional.
At this point, most shoppers are just plain cranky and confused. Bread should be where it has always sat and not where the condiments used to be. I try to initiate conversation in whomever cashier’s lane I land and if appropriate to other shoppers. Over the past 6 weeks, those interactions have been tense and without a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings.
However this past week, I caught the eyes of a fellow shopper as I was hunting for non-dairy yogurt options and she exclaimed, “I can’t find anything!”
I smiled back at her with a chuckle and said, “Well, it certainly is a scavenger hunt at times!”
She stopped her cart from rolling past mine and remarked, “That is a better way to look at this mess. Much better than my attitude!” I assured her I had done plenty of grumbling on both our behalf.
Life is a lot like my neighborhood Fred Meyer store’s remodeling project. Just when I knew where all my favorite brands resided and could easily traverse the landscape in ten minutes tops, it underwent a renovation without asking my permission.
Any type of remodeling can be confusing and time-consuming especially when it involves your life.
Over the last 15 months since I started a job, I wrote less on this blog but when I did write, my assumption is I spent a lot of time bemoaning the loss of my former life. (I haven’t checked, but I am certain it is a good guess.) I wandered up and down the aisles of my life and I couldn’t find anything familiar or in its place. I most definitely didn’t view those early months as a scavenger hunt.
In the last couple of months, the office building where I work has added two women and if lined up, the three of us each represent 10 to 20+ years of being outside the paid workforce. It has been a comfort to look into each other’s faces and speak the same language, voice the same fears and feel the identical weight of remodeling a life.
I have discovered a newfound community at work every bit as much as among muttering shoppers. Everyone wants to know their feelings are not unfounded or isolated.
If you are dipping your toes into a new body of water, these are my words for you today.
- You are not alone. Look around, take your eyes off the shelves of missing items and scan your surroundings. You may discover fellow pilgrims walking the same aisle.
You will recognize them as they bear the same glazed look you wear
- Give yourself time. Remodeling takes time. Usually it bleeds over set deadlines. This cliché is true, take it one day at a time. There is only ever one Day One, just keep amassing days towards regaining your footing.
- Extend yourself grace. Some days you will blow it. You will make a mistake at work. You will oversleep and the world around you can tell. You will yell at someone in anger or forget an appointment. Take a deep breath, survey the collateral damage and move on. The same bad day rarely repeats. Don’t be so concerned with doing everything well that you forget the only requirement is to live a real life not a perfect one.
- Keep life very simple. Hold fast to home routines. Make the people within your four walls the most crucial priority. Simple meals, simple clothes, simple chores (YES), and simple schedules.
- Ask for help. Most of us do a bang-up job of looking like we have it all together. When in reality, we are hanging on by an ever-fraying rope. It is more obvious during a crisis for others to reach out but during life-rearrangement, struggle can be unseen. I have found text messages to be my saving grace and have been blown away by the expediency of others wanting to meet my needs. When someone asks, say yes please. I repeat say yes please. Pray. Even the most basic one-sentence plea, can create an unfathomable amount of peace as your burden is placed squarely on unshakeable shoulders.
- Cling to the habits/routines which make you who you are. If you are a runner, run. If you are a book lover, read. If creating a cake brings you joy, bake. If a noisy office drives you bonkers, find quiet. Get in the habit of asking yourself what’s missing that could benefit your days. Two areas I grieved when I started back to work were my morning routine and walking. This loss has shown up in my life in external and internal ways. It has taken me a year to realize I was frantic because those areas were absent rather than I couldn’t possibly add them to my days because I was so frantic.
- Rest. On Instagram, I use the hashtag #faithfulfridayrest. Friday is my day off and I have tried exceedingly hard to make it a day of rest. Rest could be sleeping in (although I am not that great at it anymore), reading a book, extending my devotional time, going to a movie alone or with a friend or spending time with a friend. This is what a rainy Friday looked like with Courtney:
I try to resist the urge to “catch up on everything” on Friday. I overt my gaze from the clutter and dog fur lingering in corners. Most of all, I relish in being what most would call being lazy. If that is what you want to call it than I am going to re-brand the word and banish it from the bad word list. I embrace being lazy. It’s perfectly fine to not be perpetually busy.
On Sundays, our family practices a Sabbath rest. I have written about it a lot over the years. I viewed it as stopping everything related to working.
However, last year our church spent a year focus called practicing the rhythms of grace. One of those practices was Sabbath but they called it Celebration. I was humbled to realize I had not considered taking a Sabbath as a time of celebration. An hour, a half-day, a day or longer of rest is much cause for celebration. A chance to celebrate all that God has brought us through during the week and in all the ways He has made Himself present within the course of those days. It is very easy to turn any practice into a drudgery. This year, I have been looking at rest as celebration. I now think of resting as doing my lazy dance.
Sometimes our days are laid out for us like the clothes we will wear the next day and other days, we simply cannot find any article of clothing to match.
I pray you hunt well and don’t wander around feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
Because you don’t hunt and search alone.
The remodeled life can be like a scavenger hunt of reclaiming sought after items.
But if your scavenger hunts were anything like the ones of my youth, often the person beside the open door would announce,
“I don’t have that particular item but I have this. Will this work instead?”
In the remodeled life, you get to decide what works for you and what to leave behind.
Choose well, my friends.