There was a time, not so long ago, where I was looking online for apartments to rent. When you’re almost 50 years of age, and have been married for 29 years, living with your parents temporarily while searching for an apartment are very humbling experiences. During this season I found myself often asking, “How did I get to this place in my life?”
“How DID I get to this place in my life?” is not a bad thing to ask along the journey of life; actually I think it would be helpful not just during the difficult seasons, but also in the seasons of delight. The answer to that question, regardless of where you are, will be a sobering reminder that you didn’t get to where you are apart from God, either in the delight of His blessings or in the difficult days of His discipline. The truth is, both are blessings.
Back to apartment hunting. As I was looking at different apartment complexes taking notice of their location, amenities, and most importantly cost, I scrolled through the reviews of each complex. There were mixed reviews on every one, it seemed, but there was on review that was glaring, funny, and insightful on a different level.
The review actually read,
“There is not enough room in this box to tell everything that happened. Mostly all negative. I rated Landscaping Poor because they spray paint the grass green in the winter so it will “look better.” REALLY????”
Sounds appealing to me. You at least have to give the apartment management a “10” for creativity and effort. And who knows, if you’re looking for a job, love working outside, and have a passion for art, they might have a place for you.
As I read the review, the thought came to me that I have, at times, lived my life that way, painting the dead places in my life to make them look “green.” Alive. Thriving in the midst of winter. I’m sure you’ve heard the mantra, “Fake it ’Til You Make It.” This particular apartment complex’s slogan could have been, “Paint Green ’Til Spring.” Sounds catchy. But the reality is none of us like the dead or dying places in our lives to be seen, so the tendency is to create an illusion to protect our image. The problem with living life that way is eventually the paint fades, revealing that it was just a cover. It may not be true for every area of my life or yours, but I’ve discovered that maintaining even a small area of life that is dying by painting it is exhausting. It takes a lot of effort, and it never really works.
How interesting and refreshing would it be if that apartment complex had said, “Great place to live, but just know we paint our dying grass in the winter.” Or, even better, “Great place to live, where we let you see who we really are, dead grass and all.”
We all have areas we try to “paint.” We see it every day on social media where some even put on a couple coats of paint; all for the sake of not letting others see the dead places in their lives. We see it in the relationships of marriages, families, friendships. We even try to make ourselves look better in our own eyes.
What I’ve learned on this journey is it’s best to allow God to water the thriving places in my life, and let Him break up fallow ground and cultivate the dead places. He’s a master landscape artist. He knows how to turn the dying places in our life into green pastures.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:2-3)