Counting the Cost

I'm going to be the first to admit that remodeling projects (at least in our house) rarely go as planned. Things come up. Something doesn't fit right. The color is off. Sometimes there's more options to consider. And so it is with other remodeling projects. The road is rarely smooth. However, we need to deal with each obstacle one at a time and keep moving forward. Sometimes it's going backwards so we can go forwards. With that said, let's continue with our remodeling series. First, we talked about having a vision for what you want to see. Second, we need to look at our limitations and get a sense of reality. In both of these steps, the Lord guides and helps us to evaluate and discern. Just as we don't jump into a remodeling project haphazardly without some research, so we also do not take things into our own hands.

So what's next? I usually now take some time to brainstorm some options on ideas of how to get there. Don't judge them yet. Just write them down.

For me, I have been learning to take my relationships to the Lord in prayer, particularly my close ones. This has really been helpful so that they don't just degenerate in negative patterns. You know how it is when you live with others. It's so easy to take things for granted. Or sometimes you find little things become huge over time.

As I shared last week with my husband, I had found some of those things happening in our marriage, slowly building up over the past few years. While my husband and I had a vision for purpose and unity in our marriage, it was not heading that way! It was definitely time for a remodel! We were seeing repeated arguments over the same things, areas of distrust and hurt, and bad habits starting to creep in. With a new addition to the family, we also had limited resources of energy and time. It was hard to get out on dates. But we realized that if we were to wait, things would not get any better. We knew we needed to get out of the patterns that we were in if we were to grow towards our vision.

Given our situation, these then were some of our options, in no particular order: get counseling, read marriage books, learn new relating patterns, spend time extended time together working out our issues, have a retreat where we seek God together, or take time daily to check in with each other.

So, what do we do with this list? We used it as an idea source, and began evaluating each one. We have found that in our list there was something that could work, some we would need to tweak, some that were good but required sacrifice, and some that were best saved for another time.

One of the first things we did was start a weekly date night. We found that once Jonathan hit a year, we were able to get our for a few hours once a month for dinner. The rest of the month, we made Wednesday our evening together at home. We've been doing this for two years now, and it has become a part of our weekly routine. We knew we needed to do something, even if it was a small step.

Often, I think that we get stuck at this step. The changes we desire are so big and sometimes so impossible that we freeze. Brainstorming helps us to get the ideas flowing and gives us something tangible to look at. For us, we knew we needed time together, but in our busy lives, it was hard. However, the option of doing nothing was equally detrimental.

Which brings me to one more point: Whatever we choose, there is a price to pay. Remodeling is not cheap! Even doing nothing is costly---it just may not be the kind of costs that are visible up front. There needs to be investment, be it time, money, our commitments, brain energy, sacrifices, whatever. This is true in whatever is worth doing. We need to take a look at our assets as well as our liabilities, determine what it will cost us and hold it up to our vision. If our vision is compelling enough (and those that come from God usually are!), we are more likely to bite the bullet and take that first step.

The Christian life is a constant remodeling. God is changing us from "objects of wrath" into new beings that reflect Jesus. Jesus says that "anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 12:27) We could do nothing. But the price of staying the way we are is just as high as picking up the cross. The good news is, however, that we are never alone. When we open ourselves up to His remodeling, He will renew us day by day. What seems like a big burden is really only "light and mometary troubles [that] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Cor. 4:16-17)

So what are you going to do? Count the cost. Take a step. See God refine you.