Lesson learned from Stripping
Well, I guess I’ve got your attention now, right?
When I moved into my home over 20 years ago, and the previous owner came to drop off the key on move in day, I noticed something which I hadn’t noticed before when viewing the house.
As I stared at the wall in the foyer I noticed some lines. Those lines looked like wallpaper, but the walls were painted. I turned and asked the previous owner, “Did you paint the wallpaper?” “Yes.” Was his reply. What???? Who the heck paints wallpaper I thought.
Even judge Judy in deciding a case said, “You can’t paint wallpaper.” Well that’s not entirely true. You shouldn’t paint wallpaper, but it can be done. And when painted it presents a real problem. What I came to find out within the next couple of weeks, over twenty years ago was that not only had the previous owners painted over the wallpaper in the foyer, but also in the bathrooms and hallways and even a bedroom! It was their way of updating the house for resale.
So, over the years, I have stripped this painted wallpaper, with the exception, of completing the stripping of one of the bathrooms. This bathroom consists of two rooms. Back when I started to strip the wallpaper it so adhered to the walls in the main area of the bathroom that I decided at the time to paper over the existing painted wallpaper in the adjoining room and be done with it, until now.
Over this past spring break, I looked in this bathroom and saw how outdated it had become. I had decorated it with young kids in mind at the time. But now those kids are grown so I decided to update this bathroom again. I started by repainting the outdated white vanity to a beautiful gray with lighter gray walls. I even convinced my husband to upgrade the tile floor. It looked great! But then I peered through the door toward the shower area and saw that those papered walls really looked outdated. Still, I knew what awaited me if I tackled that room. The stripping of the wallpaper we had hung along with the painted wallpaper hidden underneath.
Last week I bit the bullet and began stripping.
Really the first layer of wallpaper came off easily because it was strippable wallpaper. It came off so clean in fact that my husband assured me we had reached painted walls, “No more wallpaper.” He said. I knew this was not true. The wallpaper was there, it was just camouflaged by the while paint. I really did want to believe him, but I knew better. I started to scrap and revealed paper.
And this wallpaper did not come off easily in one piece as the first layer had. Nope, it came off in little pieces, leaving the paper backing behind. This was going to a long and arduous task.
I finally developed a strategy. Slice the paint across the seams of the wallpaper and slide a putty knife underneath and begin to gently separate it from the wall. The paper backing was still left but that came off easily with a wet sponge. And so, I was on a roll, a slow roll, but a roll nonetheless.
My husband who was using a steamer on a nearby wall asked me how I was able to get the wallpaper off without the steamer. “A new strategy.” I said. I explained it to him, but he continued to use the steamer. I must admit my method was more difficult, but it yielded better results. Because when I looked at his wall there were huge chunks of wallboard missing. Yet another task I would have to address, wall repair.
So what lessons did I learn from stripping?
First, I learned that as each layer peeled back a new layer was revealed.
It’s like that with us as well. We have layers that have built up in us over the years. Some of those layers may be resentment or unforgiveness, or perhaps a callous has so hardened us that layers have built up over top of one specific area of our life. We may have layers of fear or even pride. Each layer within us tells a story and defines our character.
So, what do we do with these layers? It’s important first to identify them, and then to determine which layers to keep and which to shed. Isn’t it fascinating that in nature, species shed at the appropriate time?
Instead of holding on to all these layers, we need to take a clear look at ourselves and choose the character we would like to develop and then layer that into our lives.
The second lesson I learned while stripping was to change my perspective. There was a really, difficult part of wallpaper for which my go to strategy was not working. I took a step back and looked at it for just a minute and then I thought, well what if, instead of going at that seam from above, what if I approach it by pushing up from the bottom with the knife? You know what? It worked!
Lesson two: We can’t use the same approach for everything, our approach must fit our circumstances.
Once the stripping was done the difficult task of spackling began with yet more lessons to learn.
The thicker you put the spackle on the more sanding you will have to do to smooth and remove a portion of it.
In some places I needed that thick spackle to fix and fill the deeply damaged areas. In other spots there were just a few indentations where a lighter thinner application was more appropriate and required less sanding. Each type of spackle was unique and served a different purpose.
Lesson learned: Don’t allow thick layers of unresolved feelings to build up inside of you because soon those feelings will begin to bulge and become unsightly. Until you’ve resolved what’s underneath you can’t put on an appropriate finish layer. Each if us is created with a specific purpose. Make sure you are using your God given talents for your purpose.
And then came the sanding. Sometimes the sanding was too abrasive and removed the work I had done so that I had to spackle again and use a lighter hand. I soon learned that a slow steady hand in a circular motion produced better results as I saw a gradual disappearance of the thickened lines, yielding a freshly prepared wall ready to have a new finish applied.
Lesson learned: Sometimes we need to sand away our own rough spots so that we do not judge only according to appearances. A harshly spoken word may have a lasting impact but a soft response is healing for the soul and the more we polish and refine ourselves the more useful we will be to others.
Next came priming of the walls. I felt each wall for its smoothness and then applied the primer. Funny thing about primer, it reveals what lies underneath, so that in some spots the remaining flaws which I hadn’t seen before, immediately appeared.
Lesson learned: You can’t hide a bad foundation for it will be shown for what it is. We must start with a firm foundation to produce good and lasting results. Yes, more sanding, more spackling and then more priming. We do need to prime ourselves before we can be useful.
We need to be primed with God’s word so that we can reflect his truth and goodness to others. If we’ve primed ourselves with the word of God, good words and actions will follow.This goodness is imparted to us by God when we yield our hearts to Him.
Finally, the day came when I was able to pick out the paint for the walls. Yeah!
The trick was to pick out the paint that would complement the walls and the fixtures in the bathroom. Really this ended up being the most difficult task of all! How did I want this room to look? What did I want the room to reflect? It took some time and several trips to the paint store, but I finally found the perfect color to compliment both rooms.
So, I now ask myself, “How to I want to look?” “What do I want to reflect to others?”
I want to reflect love, kindness, gentleness, goodness and patience to others. I want to complement God not clash with Him. I want to reflect humility not pride, joy, not sorrow, and peace, not discord.
I want to grow in the knowledge of God who created me exactly for this purpose.
I want to strip my unproductive layers and lay a firm foundation to develop a character of perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. I want to be what God wants me to be, a reflection of his goodness by extending grace to others. Who knew I could learn so many lessons from stripping a couple of walls!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13