Looking below the surface of our porch not only revealed items that no longer served us or assuaged our fears of the worst. It also revealed treasures that we didn’t know were there or that we had forgotten or lost.
When exploring what lies beneath the surface of your heart, prepare to be surprised by what you find. Sure, there may be the scary, unknown, painful, fearful parts, but there might also be hidden treasures, forgotten dreams, lost gifts.
Items that had fallen through the cracks were small kids’ toys and such. There were cries of excitement as panda and leopard were pulled from the debris and returned to their rightful toy bins.
What about yourself have you lost? Be curious about those pieces that feel missing or out of order. When you find them again, it’s exciting to sort them out into the places they belong.
Two large rocks were waiting to be removed and relocated to a more prominent place in the landscaping. Rocks are important to us, and this discovery was meaningful and worth the extra effort it took to dislodge them.
Maybe there are big parts of yourself waiting to be uncovered, dislodged, and put out there for people to see. Maybe there are large gifts hidden inside of you, waiting to be discovered and put on display with some extra effort and work.
The best treasure of all was a tiny glass bottle, half buried in the dirt. It cleaned up beautifully to make a vase for small sprigs of lavender. This, again, was meaningful, as I have an affinity for tiny things.
Sometimes in the midst of the big mess and destruction, a tiny gift emerges, encouraging you to keep on going. You just have to be willing to look honestly and be open to what surfaces.
Much more can be said about going beneath the surface and doing heart work. It’s challenging, scary, messy, uncomfortable, ugly, and worth it.
For now, I leave you with the hope of treasures to be found before beginning the recovery process.
As the porch was disassembled and torn apart and unusable, the flowers around it continued to bloom. We didn’t tear them out but allowed our eyes to rest on their beauty and imagine how the flowerbeds would look when the process was complete.
We allowed ourselves to hope and dream of possibilities.
When experiencing a season of broken, don’t forget to look for the beauty. It’s there. It offers hope and help to keep going and to receive grace in the small spaces.
Removing and Exposing What Lies Beneath the Surface seemed too long a title for the next step in my porch/life saga, so I shortened it to Removing. That’s what happens after the naming of the problem to fix, the clearing away of the facade, and the bracing of the structure.
It’s time to look below that broken surface.
A well-qualified team began pulling up the old floorboards of our porch, tossing them into the yard. As they progressed, the job became more and more precarious. There had to be the right balance of strength to pull up the boards and agility to not lose balance and fall through the gaps between the supporting beams.
When peeling back the layers of a heart, it is important to have well-qualified helpers with just the right balance of strength and agility or gentleness. Strength helps to face what is difficult but necessary, while gentleness takes its time so as not to lose balance and fall through the gaps, overwhelming and doing more damage within the situation.
As the old floor boards were pried up, it grew easy to see which supporting beams were not serving our porch well and needed to be removed or reinforced and which were sturdy and strong. We also could see what was actually under the porch, rather than what we thought or imagined.
Many of my fears were unfounded (there were no dead animals, for instance, and no one was living there), and I was able to name honestly and categorize what was really below the surface. Like this old oil tank that was no longer necessary or useful.
When looking below the surface of a heart and peeling layers back, one may discover beliefs, supporting structures, that are faulty and need to be removed, replaced, or reinforced. There are also beliefs that are sturdy and strong that can be affirmed. There’s usually good and bad existing together. It’s helpful to have someone walking with you to help with the sorting out and encourage you to face and categorize the scary while affirming the true.
The porch went through a season of not serving us well, at all. We had to make arrangements to work around it, use a back entrance, and bear with the inconvenience and ugliness. We were willing to do so, because we knew it would be worth it in the end. We could picture it in our mind, and it was beautiful. We held onto hope.
That is what you need when processing through the stuff in your heart. When you come to that stuck, ugly place, you need someone to help you to hold onto hope. To see past the gaps and the inconvenience and be willing to try a different approach. You need someone who can see that YOU ARE WORTH IT even though you aren’t able to serve them well.
Because you are worth it. Fighting for a heart, repairing a soul. That is worth it.
Rebuilding takes hard work and time. It often takes things getting worse and rearranged and becoming unrecognizable before positive change is noticed.
It’s like that in the physical world of rebuilding objects. It’s like that in the medical world of rebuilding health. It’s like that in the emotional world of rebuilding hearts and relationships.
Once the decision to take steps to fix the known porch problem was made, we were able to start some of the work ourselves. We began the tearing down.
Tearing down is something we all do well in many areas of our life. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much tearing down is happening until things become distorted to us and those we love.
Once the porch railings were removed, passers-by could see all that we tried to conceal behind them and all that needed to be removed to another location during the rebuilding process.
The wicker furniture was carried out back to create a different seating group for a season.
The usable objects weren’t discarded, just relocated for awhile. Sometimes relocation needs to happen while the foundation is being rebuilt. Just because there is conflict or difficulty or relational pain to address doesn’t mean all is lost. Sometimes we need to step away to make some space. Sometimes we need to be removed from a situation for a time of healing.
The broken, rotted materials that no longer served us were collected in a pile to be discarded.
We all have broken and rotted materials to discard! Some are obvious. Others, not so much.
Once we did what we could on our own, it was time to call in the professionals.
Sometimes we can handle relational conflicts and brokenness ourselves. Sometimes we can drink herbal tea to ease our stomach pain or calm an aching throat. But when the conflict is chronic and the stomach or throat pain increases, then it’s time to get help from those who are trained to know what symptoms to look for, what is wrong, and what steps to take to recover from the damage.
Our team of professionals had dropped by the support beams to let us know they were there when we were ready. After removing most of the rail ourselves, we realized that we needed help to finish.
It’s good to know that help is there, waiting in the wings, ready for the asking.
And so it began. Help arrived to finish the teardown and bolster support to the existing structure before removing the rotting support system and replacing it with something solid.
It’s not wrong to need help. It is human to need help. And when the pressure grows so great as to weaken a person’s structure, whether physical, emotional, or relational, it’s vital to ask for and receive the offers of help that are given. It’s vital to trust that there are those who know what they are doing and who care enough to offer support during the teardown to avoid further catastrophe.
At the end of the day, there were wooden beams replacing the columns and the porch space was cleared for some serious demolition.
In some ways this made our house look better already. It showed that we knew there was work that needed to be done and that we were taking the necessary steps to complete it. It wasn’t pretty, yet, but it was a prettier, more honest look at what was going on with our porch.
When in a physical, medical, or emotional crisis, there can be beauty in facing honestly what is happening rather than pretending that all is fine and business as usual. Things can actually begin to look better, even in the worse.
It was one of the things I liked about this house when we made the decision to buy. It was large and wrapped around two sides and had a barrier to guard the littles from falling off.
It was a good porch.
It didn’t look too bad unless you looked up at the exposed beams on the underside of the roof.
I love that term. Several years ago when I had pregnancy pictures taken with Little Mae, the photographer stopped by the house and commented on the exposed beams. It was the first time someone had mentioned them. I just felt embarrassed. And exposed.
It didn’t look too bad unless you noticed those broken off floorboards where children had played a little too roughly, or those rails curling up slightly from water damage, or the lattice falling in.
Don’t lean there. Don’t sit there. Step over here. Be careful on your way out!
It was pretty solid unless you stepped on a certain area which I strategically covered with a heavy bench that Steve made.
It was still functional. Mostly.
I even made it prettier by repainting the floor a fresh color and hanging baskets one summer. I put wicker furniture out and a planter of inviting flowers by the door. There were festive welcome mats and seasonal decorations and many good times were had on that porch.
But lurking underneath. . .
I was always fearful of what was under there. It was dark behind the lattice, and I knew there were two large oil tanks, but what else hid beneath the surface of our porch? I had a feeling that there were dead animal carcasses or worse. Those broken off floorboards allowed small toys and bits of trash to disappear.
The unknown is fearful, and our minds are quick to fill in the blanks with worst-case scenarios!
One year I planted irises with the hope of disguising the falling-in lattice that exposed the dark underside of our porch.
They stepped up and did their job beautifully. See how well they cover the broken place?
Sometimes we are just functioning and doing the best that we can. Making the best of the situation we’ve been given, we paint over ugly parts, cover up weak places, and cower in shame when someone notices our exposed beams.
Sometimes we can disguise the broken with beauty, hide what’s really there, invite people to look but not too closely.
Until it no longer works and the very strategies we’ve employed to camouflage the breaking and broken become a danger to ourselves and those we love.