Have you ever stood in the lobby of the RCA building in New York City and looked up at the man painted on the ceiling, standing atop the two floor-to-ceiling pillars? He appears to lean toward you. As you walk from one side of the lobby to the other, he still appears to lean toward you, being evenly balanced only when you are in the center. Which way he leans depends on your perspective.
When Sandi and I walked into our “new” house in South Carolina, having seen the inside only in pictures, we were shocked. The lime green of the master bedroom nauseated Sandi while the red, white and baby blue of the guest bedroom hurt my eyes. Cobwebs insulated many corners, strips of dust lay in repose across the tops of windows and fans, dried dinner splashes decorated the painfully bright wallpaper in the kitchen, and dog and cat hair edged the carpets of every room. We wheezed and sneezed through the process of steam cleaning, washing and dusting the entire house.
Two days after we arrived, the Air Force sent Sandi to Korea for a week so my mom agreed to come help me with the cleaning and painting. Ice froze the airline traffic and stranded her in Washington DC. By coincidence* the family behind her in line to pick up baggage was driving to Augusta, just down the road from me. She hitched a ride with the mom and her four small kids under the condition that they would sleep at our house. They arrived late that night and camped out on our living room floor.
When the bright morning sun woke them up, they admired the house. They marveled at the wood-burning fireplace and the breakfast nook with its two picture windows. They appreciated at the sun porch with its three walls of windows. The little ones crawled from the living room through the wood bars down into the den and ran back up the stairs to the living room, serenading us with laughter. They complimented me endlessly on the beautiful house. And they thanked me profusely. I was overwhelmed. It was they who had helped my mother and me tremendously. It was I who owed them – and I didn’t even have a bed for them to sleep on.
For a moment I wondered if they weren’t little angels sent to correct my perspective. This may not be my beautiful little New Mexican mountain cabin with the amazing view, but it is a wonderful home – much more than Sandi and I need – with many great features and close enough to his work that he can come home for lunch. It is so much more than the vast majority of the world and even this country will ever have. God has truly blessed us (again!). It was like walking to the other side of the lobby in New York; I began to see the same situation differently – with gratitude – and the countless tasks on my to-do list morphed from burdens to opportunities to make our house a welcoming home to all who enter (except spiders and cockroaches of course).
*Coincidence is a small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous (as Sandi says).