Polyurethane fumes assaulted my nose when I opened my car door. We’d spent a week out of town while our floors were being refinished. I couldn’t wait to see them. I peeked through the windows. My stomach folded. They didn’t look like the furniture I’d asked them to match.
The vent grates drying on the front porch confirmed my fears. How could this happen? He’d told me he could match the color I’d shown him.
I would have to wait another 24 hours before I could go inside. I drove away feeling sick.
That weekend I’d taught two workshops on Messy Emotions. Do I have to live everything I teach? I wondered.
In my workshop, I’d reminded the women that God has not given us a dial to adjust our emotions. But He has equipped us to take every thought captive. If we tell ourselves the truth, our emotions will eventually catch up. In the meantime, while we endure emotional discomfort, it helps me to remember the unpleasant feelings will pass. I can live with them like I would a temporary headache.
I reminded myself that what often appears to be a disappointment can turn into something good. I recalled the time they put the wrong tile in our master bath. After the initial blow, I ended up liking it better than the one I’d chosen. I thought about some other initial letdowns that ended up being better than I’d hoped.
I reminded myself that God’s goal was bigger than our house. He cares about details—He’s numbered the hairs on my head. This was no mistake. He was sanding and polishing me.
Don’t despair, I told myself.
God reminded me of many truths. I had a choice whether to think His empowering thoughts or to worry about my floors. Every time my mind wandered to my floors, the knot returned to my stomach. It was a good reminder to set my affections on things above.
The story of Abraham helped me the most. By faith Abraham “ lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9,10, NASB).
The contrast of living in tents while looking for a city “which has foundations” struck me. A tent is used for camping. It has no foundations because it’s temporary. No one expects the comforts of home while living in a tent. Abraham didn’t even try to make the Promised Land his home. He lived like a traveler passing through.
In my few camping experiences, no one ever complained that the tent clashed with her sleeping bag. If we viewed our homes or even our bodies as temporary tents to house us on the way to our real homes in heaven, how would that change how we viewed life’s disappointments?
I asked the Lord to make me more like Abraham. To grant me joy in my journey and help me live like heaven is my real home. He reminded me of the more important blessings I have. I wouldn’t trade one of them for a different color floor.
Sunday, after church, the floors were dry enough to walk on. Two friends met me there for moral support. The floors are beautiful. They are lighter than I had pictured, but they are the most beautiful tent floors I’ve ever seen!
What helps you deal with your messy emotions? Are you listening to your emotions or telling yourself the truth?
My Bible study, Give Yourself a Break, has a whole chapter on messy emotions. We have some at the office. I hope to launch the book soon. Thanks for your prayers and friendship. I love hearing from you!
Click here to share your thoughts.
Beth Simpson says
Debbie, I’ve just been through something similar. We had decided to downsize our home and looked around to see what was available. We found a floor plan that we really liked and were somewhat coerced into going ahead and signing a contract (the prices go up for every 3 houses they sell… new sections will have higher prices…) before we sold our house. But we had 5-6 months to sell our house and surely it would sell in this market! So we got it ready, moved out of the house into a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment with our 3 kitties (talk about a tent!!) and excitedly waited for the contracts to come rolling in. We chose floors, tile, paint, appliances, everything for our new home!! But our house still hasn’t sold, after 4 1/2 months! No negative feedback from anyone who looked at it. It is obvious that God does not want us to move! So we have taken it off the market and cancelled the contract on the new house, and will be moving back into our home over the next 3-4 weeks. We were very disappointed, but when we started to really look at it, we realized that God was completely in control of this situation and we did not want to live somewhere that God did not want us to. He chose our neighborhood for us 8 years ago and He is choosing it for us again now! And we get to move out of this awful apartment!! To God be the glory!!
Debbie Wilson says
Beth, I love your story and your attitude. We are moving back in to out house today. The new faucet I got that is “nonrefundable and half price” doesn’t fit our existing sink. They tore up the old faucet to remove it to put in the new! The new dishwashers sticks out beyond the countertop. My verse for the day is: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NASB). Thanks for sharing your story and God’s grace.
Debbie Wilson says
Thanks Cindi and Earle!
cindi Pierce says
As usual Debbie, I am greatly instructed and encouraged by your post. Such great reminders!!
Earle Finley says
Good Morning Debbie,
Great encouragement to start the day.
Diane Allen says
Your words and your heart for God always challenge me. You spoke this message to me years ago and it has taken hold. Thank you for writing this wonderful post so I can share it with others. The decision to be content is the most powerful one we can ever make in our lives and it gives God room to make changes to our heart, our emotions and our physical and material lives.
Debbie Wilson says
Glory to God, Diane. Your experience shows your heart is good soil! Bless you for passing it on and bearing more fruit!
Ann Musico says
How awesome that you were able to quickly allow God to remind you of what really matters and of how transient and temporary everything in this world truly is! It is so easy to let details send us off on a tangent and cause us to miss the real gift God is trying to get to us through it. Messy emotions – a great description!
Debbie Wilson says
Ann, I’ve found it is a moment by moment choice. Always love hearing from you, my friend.
keita ikeda says
I am glad to see you have perspective. After all, these are first world problems ;0
It is also encouraging to see that you address disappointment, which is always good for uncovering idolatry, as disappointments are result of unmet expectations. Thinking as an engineer, I gauge my own disappointments in such way that:
Level of Idolatry = the magnitude of disappointment divided by the magnitude of Joy of knowing God.
Which usually brings my disappointments back into perspective… And the things of earth grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
There is a hidden rebuke here though. Woe to those who always get their way, because they will never come to terms with their idols, and thus will continue to hold on to idols without ever being reminded that they are idolaters, and continue to live delusional idolatrous lives.
Debbie Wilson says
You are absolutely right, Keita. I have floors and a bed and running, clean water and food. I am very thankful. I hadn’t connected disappointment with idolatry. I know that hope deferred can make the heart sick. If our hope is in the wrong thing, then even if we obtain it, it won’t satisfy for long. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.