I use to refinish floors for a living.
And I think, sometimes, life refinishes us.
Because of the feet and furniture and dirt and kids and sunlight and life happening on the floor, the finish would scratch and fade preventing the true beauty of the natural wood to come through.
So in order to make it new, you’d need to take some aggressive steps.
You’d start by attaching a rough grit to a very heavy machine. This rough grit was made if thick little stones. The wheel on the machine would spin, pressing down, removing the top layer of finish, grinding it’s in way into the wood, producing bags and bags of sawdust. A once mahogany or brown floor would turn to a light blond as the new layer of fresh wood appeared.
Then you’d pick a color or finish style: water base, oil, wax, plant based, natural color or pigmented. You’d apply something extra to the natural wood to enhance it, but most importantly—to protect it.
Once completed, you have, what looks like, an entirely new floor again.
We often hold on tightly to the memories, habits, relationships and details that make up our life. We don’t let go very easy. But life has a way of refinishing us. Of grinding away at our surfaces.
It takes away our money, our energy, our friends, our loved ones, our businesses, our ideals…our dreams.
Is life cruel?
Is life mean?
No. It’s the farthest thing from it.
Life is love. And love restores, rebuilds, renews. Like a gardener, or hardwood floor refinisher—:)—it has an agenda, an idea in mind. It knows your next phase, place of growth, stage of beauty. It knows what you could be, and, it sees all the scratches and fading and life that’s happened to you already.
So with all the scratches on our surface, what do we need more of? Deeper, more aggressive scratches, to get underneath the old ones and bring the next fresh layer to the surface.
Sometimes, in order to bring us to the next place, life hurts and wounds and takes away and scratches us deeply.
It’s normal to resist this process. Why wouldn’t we? It hurts. But knowing that, just like when refinishing a floor, the first stage is painful as it strips and removes the outer layer.
This is good.
This is natural.
This is part of the process.
So sometimes we lose friends.
Sometimes we step away from family.
Sometimes we lose that house.
Sometimes the bank account goes below zero.
Sometimes the business fails.
Sometimes the marriage you invested into for 20 plus years ends badly.
Sometimes, we don’t get what we worked and suffered and struggled for.
Sometimes we want to give up.
Life is not against us. It is for us.
Love is not wounding us. It’s refinishing us.
Life is not bringing us to our knees so it can bring us to our ends. The work of love is always a beginning, a necessary step in bringing us to our highest selves.
Sometimes, we are a work in progress.
And, sometimes, step one, the deep and painful cutting is removing the things that can no longer stay. The things that are covering up the wood’s true beauty rather than revealing it. And so love removes those things that are getting in our way—even if we love them.
What a hard thing to grasp; that love removes the things that we love. But it does, and it does so for our good.
We are often these scratched-up faded floors, comfortable with and falling in love with the things and people that are holding us back.
And so a graceful step is surrender.
Surrendering, yielding, accepting the inevitable process of our becoming.
Because, it’s happening right?
Have you noticed?
Things, sometimes—no matter how hard you try, how many tears you cry, no matter the goodness or holiness of your intentions—don’t go the way we planned.
Sometimes, no matter what we do, it doesn’t work out.
And that’s the paper, the cut, the grind, the process of getting under our surfaces to bring about the next best version of who we are and can be.
Sometimes, a floor is in such bad shape that the only option is to tear it out and install a brand new floor.
We are not just the current pieces of wood—the elements of our history and life. We are a work of art. A mixture of the four elements; earth, water, air and fire. We are an instrument, a vessel, a branch of the eternal tree being trimmed and cut so we, ourselves, can produce a harvest.
The harvest is the point.
The harvest is what we are designed and created for.
Health. Wholeness. Light. Goodness. Charity. Joy.
We are here, as an extension of divine love, to become divine love itself— bearing the fruit of divine love.
And as love is eternal, it moves and flows and bends and grows and cuts and removes, always aiming at bringing forth the nature of the seed—which is love itself.
Because love is the seed of our souls, life, like soil, is programmed and designed to protect, remove and nurture us until the seed becomes the expression of it’s truest nature—love itself.
And so we can learn to embrace change.
We are invited to see pain and suffering and trials and mistakes and failures and heartaches as part of a giant, big, beautiful refinishing process.
We learn to flow with this process and accept it as good and holy and healthy and crucial to our life’s story.
We can stop fighting the newness, and let go of the memories, the friends, the moments we’re holding so tightly, letting the grit of the paper of life strip them from our grasp.
We can trust that as painful and dark as it all is, we are being made into something beautiful.
That life is not just hurting us, it’s stripping us down to a better layer, and applying a finish that not only protects us, but also reveals our truest beauty.