Confession: I’m a Pinterest person. In a fit of decluttering more than a year ago, I found the virtual bulletin board, collector of all things. You see an idea for a really cool but huge piece of furniture? Pin it instead of buying it. Love vintage clothes but can’t fit in that tiny-waisted 50s dress? Hang it in your Pinterest closet. Want to collect salt and pepper shakers by the hundreds? Pin them instead. I’m also a fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper. The homes they choose to fix up are often, well, in really bad shape. Between Pinterest and Fixer Upper’s hosts Chip and Joanna, I learned back in the day “antiquing” is now “upcycling.”
You know it when you see it. Old stuff used in new ways. It’s not collecting fancy furniture for the sake of curating pieces in fancy (don’t touch that, put all the breakables away) houses but re-purposing items for our homes, reminding us of our dad’s tool box or grandma’s kitchen hutch or the family farm. Maybe adding a dose of fun. Upcycling is evolving. As many cast-offs as there are in barns, at yard sales, and up in the attic to reclaim, there are ways to upcycle.
My newlywed parents started looking for fixer-upper antiques when they couldn’t afford modern furniture. It’s much the same today. The past month, I can’t tell you how many girls decorating their dorm or first apartment I’ve run into in antique stores or the flea market. But forty years ago, it was all about stripping down old paint to find the original wood. Now, folks want the furniture covered in chalk paint. Paint covering the years of scratches, water stains and abuse a dresser or table endured. Mama or Grandma point out a nice kitchen table in maple. Nope. No wood for these daughters. They want color, texture and maybe a little faux distressing but not really “real”.
Not for me.
I like what they call “chippy” pieces. My stepladder with the original paint layers but flaking down to the pine. Or the part of a screen door turned coat rack, again paint flaked away, with beautiful turned wood detailing and rusted screen. The pieces I find evoke a memory or start a story in my head. But lately, there’s been something more in common. A top layer of dark emerald green paint, the green you used to see on house trims and steps.
What does all this have to do with grace? God’s loving kindness toward us, God’s unmerited favor.
It took me a while to figure out why I’m so attracted to things less than perfect, the things others see as amateur art or ugly banged up junk (um, the stuff you might just pick up at the junk yard or on the side of the road. But I’m not telling.) And especially with that color green. What’s with that?
It hit me after a meteor shower, prayer, and two pots of coffee.
I’m that chippy ladder I put potted flowers on. I’m the rusted screen door piece with rust and scraped paint made into something useful. At this time in my life, I’ve lived through a lot, had numerous careers, become a grandma and made plenty of mistakes. Those sweet young girls, I hope, are as shiny as the perfectly painted furniture they want. But, more likely, they’ve started that pattern of covering up their hurts and imperfections. Age and experience have taught me blessings, God’s unmerited favor, come my way , when I admit to being who I am in both how God created me and how I’ve failed at being God’s creation. God’s loving kindness shows up most when I’m my authentic self, when I’m chippy, showing my wounds and scars. I’m saying it again. God loves us in our imperfection. As I continue this life, on a regular basis being upcycled from the battered, worn and used up me into someone useful to God’s purpose, something GREEN (a symbol for new life and starting over…yep, figured that one out with MORE coffee and prayer), I’m praying for all those who feel like they don’t warrant God’s love because of those scars and rough patches they hide. Let us love each other in our “chippyness.” God sure does.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)