I am cleaning the house, getting ready for the small group when my husband decides to paint the front door. I’ve dusted downstairs and swept and mopped the kitchen and I am running the vacuum in the living room when I see him through the window—up on a ladder. And this is when the ghosts of all my patients haunt because I can see him fall as clear as if it were unfolding before me.
I shut off the vacuum.
He’s stretching up—painting the top lintel—when I step outside.
“Do you want me to hold the ladder?”
He glances down, but keeps painting and I can feel the stress all furled up in him. There is so much that needs doing. There is so much.
He finishes the top and climbs down from the ladder.
“I’m just going to do the frame today. Put some primer on these soft places.”
He’s painting down low and I stand on the edge of the porch and try to absorb some of it. The sky is deep crystal blue and there is woodsmoke in the air. The evening yawns beautiful and I stand on the rim of it. But I can’t stop the worry flowing down.
Yesterday, when we were driving together, I asked him, “Do you think God is testing us? Do you believe in that?”
He just looked straight ahead and said, “I don’t believe anything anymore.”
I look at white paint dripped on brick and paint brushes strewn around on throw cloths. And I go back inside and mop the living room. It’s not long before he’s back standing beside me and I’m just finishing up with the corners, thinking about the bathroom next.
“I got the frame done,” he says, and with each word I hear how he hates it. Not the work—just the weight of it all. Painting the door is one small thing he can do. He can do this because he can’t make the job at the University work and he can’t make our boy’s surgery go right and he can’t change the way things are with the licensure board and those neighbors? The ones we hoped were gone? They came back today.
“I’m a pretty good painter, you know,” I say. And I am too. I worked two summers at the power plant in Shinnston when I was in college—cleaning greasy equipment and then painting it.
“I know,” he says, and rocks back on his heels. “You wanna finish the door?”
“Well, the bathroom still needs cleaned. And the upstairs swept.”
“I can do that.”
So we switch. And I’m outside under that blue sky sloshing white paint over the door—every stroke a prayer.
And I can hear the vacuum cleaner humming through the door.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:
The Playdates button:
Sharing with Laura Barkat today also: