By Ben Thomas, photo by Emily Poisel
Recently, I decided to paint my house. Thinking that hiring someone to do it would cost me big time, I did what any stubborn, penny-pinching American would do. I decided to do it myself with a little help. A friend of mine who used to be a painter agreed to do the actual painting. All I had to do was prep it and paint the trim. This seemed like a good deal to me; how hard could it be to scrape off a little paint? Now, a month into the job, my perspective has changed.
After closer inspection, I was caught off-guard by how badly my house needed to be painted. I found damage I’d been blind to for years - paint chipping off everywhere, a significant amount of mold and spots that had never even been painted in the first place. Even more surprising was how many secrets are hidden under that top layer of paint. As I chipped, scraped, and sanded away layer after layer, I learned that my house has been through quite a journey over the years. At one time, it was green. I discovered dry rot in several places, which were sneakily crumbling away. Most frustrating of all, I discovered that the last person to paint my house tried to cut corners. The job I thought would just take a couple days is now taking weeks and a much larger physical and emotional toll than I could have ever imagined.
Strange as it may seem, I can’t help but think how much these exploits with my dilapidated, experience-worn house connect to the wounds and pain that so many of us carry hidden under the surface of our lives. We long for a change and want to shine the way we were made to. But something doesn’t feel right. We feel like our guard is chipping. We rot under the surface, confused about why our protective strategies don’t seem to be working the way they’re supposed to. God did not create us to live this way. So often we do everything we can to avoid the pain. We’re afraid of what will be exposed if we scrape beneath that first layer. However, As I look at Jesus’ ministry, I see an invitation to step into the uncomfortable and face our pain in order to find healing and new life. In John 4, when Jesus meets the woman at the well, he doesn’t shy away from the messy things hiding under the surface of her life. In fact, he goes straight to them. In order for the woman to move forward and experience the spring of life that God has for her, she first has to look at the painful things, things that have plagued her for years. It is after facing her hidden wounds that she discovers forgiveness and healing, allowing freedom to discover the life she was meant to live. When she does, it’s so transformative she can’t help but go and share it with those in her community.
Fall Refuge groups are about to start at Imago Dei Community. These provide an opportunity to get under the surface of some of those messy, painful things that you might be dealing with. We long to create a safe place for people to do the hard work of getting through those painful layers of life together, emerging on the other side more open to Christ’s transformative healing. I’m not going to lie to you, doing this work can be difficult. For some of us, it can be excruciating. We hope to face these things together, creating space for change and choosing to stop covering up what clearly needs to be dealt with. As we journey alongside one another, we hope to become a transformed community, so excited about how Christ has changed us that we can’t help but tell the world.
Refuge Intro Night is this Monday Sep. 19th from 7-9pm at Imago Dei. Come learn more about the groups we will be offering this fall and sign up to join us on the journey of facing life together. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.