I keep thinking of the word duplicity. Here’s what it means:
1. contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action;especially : the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action.
2. the quality or state of being double or twofold
I was going to describe my behavior with the word duplicity; I know that I am two things at that same time. I don’t think I’m all deceptive about it though. I’m the second definition: I’m straight up about my duplicity.
Scott and I have made a HUGE decision. It occurs to me that this would be a fun place to write something outrageous. Something to really capture your interest (ie divorce/sex change/joining the circus). Nothing cool like that happens around here. So, I’ll just tell you the truth.
We have decided to hire professional people to finish our basement.
This is monumental. We are extending ourselves more than I’d like. We’ve talked about it, prayed about it, thought about it, and now it’s done. Well, not the basement, but the extending ourselves part. This is a calculated risk we’ve decided to take. As long as the economy doesn’t crash, or we don’t all contract Ebola, odds are this risk will not take us under. It might be a risk that will at some point, give us a return on our investment. Maybe.
So, that’s scary.
We meant to finish the basement ten years ago, when we moved in our cute house; a bad roof, bathroom, central air and sick kid later, we decided we’d just have to make do. For several years, Eddie and Zeke were sleeping in the basement. We worked hard to make the basement look as nice as possible. If I put a wig and clothes on my dog, would you think he’s a human? No. An unfinished basement is, really, always still an unfinished basement.
Last year, we moved Eddie upstairs to see if it might make him feel better, and to get him closer to the bathroom. Lo and behold his little brother wasn’t keen on staying in the basement by himself. Zeke’s been sleeping on the floor upstairs for almost a year. Here’s his bed:
So. That’s our story. We’re doing it. We’re putting a bedroom, three-quarters bath and a living space in the basement. We’ve been cleaning out the basement in preparation. Last week Zeke and I were talking about how this thing is going to look. I wish I could have recorded the look on his face when I told him he was going to have a bed, and be a short distance from the new downstairs bathroom. He could hardly believe it.
Then he asked, “What about our clothes? Will we still keep them all in the laundry room?”
I said, “No. You will have a closet, Zeke. A real closet. You’ll have a dresser too. All of it will be in your room.”
Zeke was amazed at this news. Like, he thought he won the lottery. I loved that moment. I felt happy to see Zeke get so excited, and to realize we were doing something that would improve his quality of life. Then, we both laughed. We realized that the level of excitement we have about a closet might be weird. Of course, I couldn’t resist pointing out that the level of excitement he had was his parents’ gift to him.
I said, “What if you’d just had a closet your whole life? You wouldn’t even know a closet was something to be grateful for, right? So, yeah. You’re welcome, kiddo.”
He shook his head at me.
So, we’re doing all this, and one part of me is glad, and thinks it’s right. And, one part of me feels bad, and thinks it’s wrong. . We might just be getting caught up in it all. Tricking ourselves into thinking we need “stuff” to be happy.
I have this gentle friend from church who grew up in a third world country very far away. Her parents are in their 80’s now. Her parents worked their entire adult lives on translating the Bible into the tribal language of the people they served. Her parents’ bodies are frail now, but recently they took a risky trip to this distant land to deliver the finally completed Bibles. These missionaries weren’t about to pass up an opportunity to cross the finish line.
This same gentle friend has a young daughter who is also now a missionary. She’s in Guatemala. I read her blog this week. She thinks the Guatemalans have a culture that emphasizes gratitude. She explains that they have customs and language to express their gratitude. She can’t find an equivalent counterpart for these customs in the United States. Then, she talks about how the children she works with name what they are grateful for: learning, school, food, etc.
See? They’re not spoiled. No one mentioned closets.
I read this sweet girl’s blog, and I envied her. She is not one bit confused about what is necessary and what is indulgence. I thought maybe I would like to work in the world she describes some day, where there’s no confusion. A place where family, food, shelter and education are revered as life’s greatest blessings.
I sent the blog to Scott. He emailed back and said he longs for a simpler life, serving others. He said maybe we could do this kind of work when the kids are older.
I replied, “Did you really just say that? I was thinking the same thing.”
So, that’s an idea. We’ve had that idea before, when we were young. We went as far as talking to people in a Guatemalan orphanage about how they could use us. The answers didn’t seem very clear. Then, roofs, kids, and basements made us forget. I’m starting to remember now.
I bought a print to put on the wall in our house. I’m going to frame it and put it up by the door when all of remodeling is done. Scott and I were looking for something that would be like a blessing for the kids as they walked out the door. Normally, I’m kind of hasty about choosing home decor. Not this time. I searched and searched the interwebs. I wanted something that would almost be like our family motto. I found it:
I showed Scott the poster online. He said, “Yep. That’s it.That’s the one.”
We liked this verse. We know that every time our children walk out our door, we lose our ability to protect them. They will experience disappointment, hurt, rejection, jealousy and anger. We can’t stop those things from happening.
If our kids have this verse hidden in their hearts, and they believe it and practice it, they will be content in all circumstances. It won’t occur to them to feel sorry for themselves. I can’t think of a better family motto than that.