Not so, said Hubby, who closed his eyes and his wallet. “Let’s take some measurements and estimate the cost.” He’s not always a measure twice, cut once type of dude, but when it came to this particular design choice, he had to slow my wallpaper roll. I shifted to neutral though my imagination went into overdrive.
The thing is, when we found our house, I fell in love with it exactly the way it was. It felt like us—the paint colors, the distinct room layout and their number and sizes, the yard blooming with flowers I didn’t have to plant (or kill). But I had to put my own Pearson stamp on it. To make this house truly our house with a renovation, changing some things over time as we lived in it and figured out what worked and what didn’t.
Kinda sounds like our marriage.
I love the way God made Hubby. Tall, with a high-top fade to match. Funny and sweet, but a doer and a go-getter. Very smart and outgoing. In fact, he still is, minus a few inches of hair. He’s the cheddar cheese on my hamburger. Have you ever heard, “Never met a stranger”? That’s Hubby. Totally comfortable in his own skin and able to make you feel at home in yours.
Yet and still, everybody can use a tweak here and there. A prayerful nudge and reshaping, some growth. I certainly do, and more than a tweak. Over time, I’ve stamped Hubby with my own “W” as we’ve adjusted and changed over time, figuring out what works in our relationship and what doesn’t.
See what I did there? And while we’re talking about wallpaper…
I watched and waited for three years, checking out web sites now and then to make sure my precious Schumacher paper remained in stock. I dropped hints when I noticed sales. I ordered samples “just to see.” I sought out Hubby’s opinion on other brands and styles. I researched, researched, researched how-tos and design ideas and accosted experienced friends and Home Depot workers, determined that we could do the work ourselves and save money on installation. After all, didn’t I organize my own wedding for 250 guests? Haven’t we built several houses and (nearly) survived a remodel? Aren’t we the homeschooling parents of seven?
Hubby slowly went from a “no go” to a “not yet” right in time for our infamous renovation, when our careful planning led us to broaden our minds along with a wall or two. And lo and behold, we ordered it. We committed. We said yes to the wallpaper! No, not nearly as meaningful as my wedding ring, but we were nearly as wide-eyed and speechless—and scared out of our wits—when we opened that long rectangular box and gulped, We’re really doing this!
Mmm-hmmm. Very much like marriage.
Twenty-nine years ago, the jury was split: some folks told us we were too young and inexperienced to turn a college romance into a marriage. That we should wait if we did it at all, save a ton first because love comes at a cost. Others encouraged us to go for it, that it was possible to make a success of the long-term us even though the short-term us didn’t know what we were doing. Then, we disregarded all the helpful do it/don’t do it advice and we said, “I do”—just like we did this time, only to the wallpaper.
“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24:3, 4)
Those four double rolls sat for months as we waited and continued to study…and ignore people who peppered us with comments like “Are you sure?” “I did it once, and that was enough!” Even our contractor who could build furniture with his eyes closed shook his head and pronounced, “I’d never attempt that!” I started to wonder, Could we do this? Did we buy enough? Would we waste hundreds of dollars? Why didn’t we get the plumb line Janet McHenry recommended? What was this novice thinking, buying an unpasted, paisley print? By the time the weekend finally arrived, honestly, this wallpaperer-to-be was about as nervous as any bride-to-be.
Yet, as it turns out, God’s plan and timing and choosing and design was so much better. If we’d bought it years ago, we would’ve spent more covering the walls we opened up. We might have hired an expert back then instead of persevering and working together. We bickered a little because we both know too much, but we laughed a lot more and even sang along to good music. And that feeling you get from a job (mostly/kinda) well done? There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like us.
Don’t get me wrong. All those naysayers? Totally right. It was a doozy. We used too much paste in some places and not enough in others. There are seams that don’t quiiittte line up, places we had to mix and match. There was patching and more patching and repainting of trim. One roll had a defect skipping through it that still needs to be addressed. . . We’ve gained and lost in our marriage, gone to bed angry, moved one time too many, broken promises and struggled for words. There’s lots of patching up and making up and times we don’t quiiiite line up. Still, this once-and-done, one-wallpaper-project, one-man woman absolutely loves what we’ve done together. What we’ve made together.
Why does it…we…work? Because of God’s plan and timing and choosing and design. Our pattern is forgiving and flexible. Life’s not all paisley and flowers; there are gaps we trust Him to fill and heal. But if you gaze into the large mirror placed just so—God’s Word—you’ll see our happy and grateful faces reflected in it, in Him; you can’t see the rough spots. There we are, the dapper dude in the “Dad to the 7th power” pullover with the silvery five o’clock shadow towering over the woman with the same brown glasses, chin hair, and T-shirt that reads “Castles, Shoes, & Bippidi Boppidi Boos.” It’s only when you get up close or look for them that you focus on our imperfections. Er, the wall’s.
Yet, when you stand back and behold the big picture, you can enjoy the beauty of what the LORD has done, not Hubby or me. And you can guess which one I’m talking about.
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave…
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised.” (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7)