Ahh — restoration. It conjures up images of Rembrandts and vibrantly painted Victorian homes. In my twenties, my idea of restoration was inherently idealistic. I began a decade of inner-city ministry with the idea that restoring people would be akin to buffing a diamond (which I’d never actually done) to reveal it’s hidden shine and unseen worth. Twenty years later, I have a great deal more respect for the painstaking work of restoration.
To explain, I’m going to transition to another R-word — radiators (please, just trust me here). In October, my husband and I bought a home. A hundred-year-old home. It has a beautiful yard, arched entryways, and radiators, harkening back to a grander time. We loved the home but knew it needed some work. A skilled architect measured the space, listened to our goals, and drew up some plans. Actually, she drew up A LOT of plans until we finally arrived at a winning solution. We could fit an extra bathroom and a laundry room upstairs if we were willing to make one concession. Remove all the radiators. Pause. I had not foreseen this in my glorious vision. I love my radiators. They are one of my favorite things about our current house, offering their cozy warmth and familiar comfort. I balked. I stalled. I came up with piecemeal solutions. But in the end, it was clear – they simply had to go. So one day last week, workers came over and hauled eight large, smelly radiators out of our new old house. It was messy. Sludge leaked on the formerly (like 25 years ago) luxurious carpet. Holes were left in the hardwood floors. And it didn’t come cheap. People who drag several 900 lbs. cast iron radiators down a curved staircase expect to be fairly compensated for doing so.
This is a mundane, yet realistic metaphor of restoration, and one that is familiar to us at CrossRoads. Reconstruction is not possible without first moving through the pain of deconstruction. We can cover with a fine veneer, and mock our original design, but deep at heart, we know that we were made for more than getting by with a functional existence. The painting covering the Rembrandt isn’t bad – it may even be pleasant to look at, but it isn’t the glorious work of a master. That lies beneath, and it’s worth the pain in the process.