I have never considered myself someone who loves work. For most of my life, I’ve focused my goals around accomplishing as much as possible with a minimal amount of effort. “Work smart, not hard” could have easily been my life motto.
I see this mentality as fundamentally flawed. If you’re going to work, why not work smart and hard? This avoidance of hard work had led me to a place where I was watching myself slowly deteriorate, doing the bare minimum and accepting my condition as inevitable.
The change started when I began making goals to get healthier, as well as taking on various physical challenges for myself to see what I could accomplish if I set my mind to it. As I’ve progressed toward many of these goals, I’ve begun to see work as its own reward. Consequently, this process shined a light into other areas in my life where I was unhealthy; my physical health and low effort level were just the tip of the iceberg.
Recently, I started the process of buying a house. I picked the house that looked like the most work I could realistically do. It checks a lot of bad boxes: bad landscaping, poor drainage, and a heaving basement floor with signs of water intrusion. It is in bad enough condition that my first bank loan fell through. That was not a door shutting on me, it was a minor speed bump. Next step was to go through a local bank with a renovation loan, which has looked promising so far.
In spite of its many downsides, the house has a lot of potential. The appraised value came back well over my offering price, it’s a good size, in my idea of an ideal location in the Sidney area, has a big yard and a garage that spoke to my latent craftsman. The renovation will be a lot of work, but as they most certainly say: “You’ll never know what you can’t do until you don’t do it.”
Time is the enemy of an empty house; the ground settles, water erodes and rot creeps in. No house can stand on its own for long, it has to have a caring inhabitant – someone to work against the external forces breaking the house down. With the right inhabitant, a run-down house can be restored to its former glory, or better yet, turned into something of greater value.
In many ways, I was this empty house. Thinking nothing of it, I’ve hated time, every new year and birthday was another reminder of missed opportunities and greater loss. I was not growing spiritually, I was apathetic and stagnant. I was a Christian but I was keeping Christ out of my life in many meaningful ways.
When I finally saw the heart of my problems I didn’t know where to begin to address it. My new-found energetic reaction is to roll up my sleeves and get to work, but can a house hope to fix itself? Can I heal my heart and mend a despondent spirit, or is it my role to be a vessel for the inhabitant? Can I simply give over to him and let him do the work for me? It all seems too easy – too fitting of my old life motto – but truthfully it’s anything but easy to surrender in this way.
There are forty thousand-plus pounds of concrete in the basement of this old house that need to be torn up, carried out and repoured. The drywall needs to be gutted, and I’m sure I’ll need to have the plumbing and electrical looked over. The outbuildings, trapping water against the house, have to be moved, the land needs to be graded, the gutters redone, and the siding replaced. With countless hours of work and investment, this house can be made new again. I can’t wait to see what can be accomplished in the coming years.