The Underbelly

I’ve mentioned that my husband and I recently moved.  Moving always reminds me of a couple of important things:

  1. I have too much stuff.
  2. I never want to move again!

The crazy part of this move is that we chose to move into a house that had been in foreclosure and is in desperate need of some TLC.  Why do I get myself into these things?  It’s not that I don’t have anything to do.  Good grief.  This might possibly be one of the busiest seasons of my life so far, but never-the-less we have taken on a project.

There are a couple of reasons we took on this project:

  1. It’s an opportunity to multiply the resources God has blessed us with.
  2. It’s something that my husband and I enjoy doing together.  Yes, some days it creates a bit of tension and there are definitely some projects (like plumbing) that we should never do together, but overall we enjoy taking something that’s a little beat up and making it beautiful again.

But here’s where the challenge comes in…

We’ve been working on our new home for almost three months and at times I wonder if we can see progress at all.  We’ve had to take care of the little things behind the scenes, the things that aren’t so apparent to the naked eye.  We’ve been working in the underbelly.

  • We’ve repaired plumbing leaks under the house… well actually Merlyn and my dad did that because I don’t do plumbing.
  • We’ve painted ceilings and every square inch of trim on the second floor.
  • I sealed grout.  Yes, really… on my hands and knees spraying a sealer and wiping each little crevice dry.
  • Merlyn fixed wiring issues.
  • I’ve painted and painted and still have more outrageous rooms to tackle.
  • We’ve replaced filters, light bulbs and toilet roll holders.
  • I’ve been covered in drywall dust and my new shade of hair color is known as primer.

I get embarrassed some days when friends come to check on our progress and I’m afraid it doesn’t look like much.  I’ve been crazy busy spending every spare minute on this place but sometimes it just isn’t very visible.

I long to rush to the decorating and make every room inviting for friends.  But I would be covering up bruises, bumps and blemishes that will eventually show through.  Doing all the tough work on the underbelly will pay off down the road when I know all the pretty decor is not covering up anything but rather enhancing the architecture.

And this is exactly what the underbelly of my life looks like.

Isn’t this what we do in our personal development and spiritual lives?  We are in such a hurry to look good that we put on the pretty “decor” to appear as if we’re all together but so often we don’t take care of the underbelly.

And man, this is hard work.  Some days it doesn’t seem like I’ve gotten very much done…

I still get offended when someone asks a question in a way that makes me feel like I’ve failed

I still want to retaliate when someone hurts me

I still get insecure when I don’t feel comfortable

I still get jealous when someone else accomplishes the thing I dream of doing

The underbelly takes tough work that isn’t always immediately visible but it’s the foundation to our health – emotionally and spiritually.

Have you taken a look at the underbelly lately?  Is there some clean up you need to attend to?


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  • JennyRain September 20, 2011  

    so true… this is why I hate vacuuming… because I can’t see results! I want immediate results and vacuuming just doesn’t do it for me. Give me a room to rearrange or a bathroom to clean or something and then I get excited, but vacuuming is like the underbelly of housecleaning.

    How our healing is so much like this … you gotta work on the heart issues before you can see changes on the outside… great post Jenni!

  • Anonymous September 20, 2011  

    Your post made me think of something that God has really been impressing on me lately, namely, that we tend to be very focused on attaining our goals and think that happiness is found once we reach the goal.  Often, however, God is more concerned with the process than the goal, and if we can learn to enjoy the process as much as the goal…true happiness!

  • Brenda Mikec September 20, 2011  

    Great post, Jenni! So very true! A great mentor/friend of mine gave me a powerful visual very similar to this- she had referred to the “ugly” stuff underneath as wounds that so many of us try to cover up with “band-aids”, which we know is only a temporary fix. The moment someone bumps into us again, or hurts us, the band-aid falls off & our wounds, or junk, is exposed. She encouraged me so much with these words, “God wants us to remove the band-aid(s) so our wounds are exposed and he can “scoop” out the junk in order to help us begin to truly heal.”

  • Kevin September 20, 2011  

    Great Post! Thanks for sharing from the heart. Paying attention to the dirty details is what will make the true beauty last. It is just harder for us to do that personally, but I realize it is vital for me to become who HE wants me to be. Never underestimate your influence…keep posting!

  • Kara Lane September 20, 2011  

    I’ve never heard what’s going on inside as “the underbelly,” but what an apt description!  I can really relate, too, to wanting to put on the pretty “decor” for appearances sake.  I am a self-help author and founder of a company that provides personal development products and services.  As a result, I sometimes feel like I am expected to “appear” perfect.  After all, someone who helps people with their self-improvement shouldn’t sometimes be petty or insecure, right?  Of course, deep down I know that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect and loves me “warts and all,” but there are days when I wish my “underbelly” were more like my “outerbelly”. 

  • Jenn G September 22, 2011  

    this might be one of the most amazing posts for me! I can totally relate as it felt like there was never progress to an outsider when we built our house but I knew I had spent hours of each week trying to get it ready. I wanted to get to decorating but I knew that to do that meant I had to take the time to make sure the foundation was good. Every time I look at a wall (because I actually painted them all) I am reminded of the work it took to make it look that way. There is such comfort to me to know that God does the same thing with me…takes me (every day really) from a flat piece of land to something that brings so much joy and love in our family and hopefully, Glory to Him.