Nailing Life & Hopeful Days

The bright-eyed salesman who came to give me an estimate on my buckled wood floors had no idea of my emotional spiral. I called him because a pipe had broken months before and hundreds of gallons of water flooded our master bath and bedroom. It then seeped into the dining room.

I haven’t been able to face the thought of this repair until now.

He was measuring with lasers. He spoke quickly and feverishly, telling me how fast his crew would complete the job. He assured me it would be a painless process to which I huffed audibly. He was pressing for a date to do the job.

I felt overwhelmed and must have looked it.

He stared at me like I was crazy, and then said: “Do you ever feel like you’re just nailing life?”

I stared at him in disbelief. He went on to say that he was having one of “those days” where everything was clicking for him. His business, his young marriage, his young children. He had it all going rightly and under his control.  

My response was neither gracious nor measured.  I gasped at his naivete’ and said: “However fabulous you are feeling today, you’d better hold on tight to that feeling!”

He looked like I had slapped him. And I had, verbally.  

He asked what I meant, which was both brave and stupid. I told him that being in your 20’s is just a more optimistic time. Having little kids is simply one of the best anecdotes to the harsh realities that it only gets harder from here.  

He looked around at my upscale home and said: “How can you feel this angry when you live here?”  

He meant it, friends.  He actually thought at that moment that if he owned my house with his life that he could be endlessly happy.  

Of course, I didn’t tell him the hardships I am facing today. He naively believed that my floors were my largest obstacle to life being back to blissful happiness. I miss the kind of optimism that this young salesman holds. I’m not sure if I ever had it in the over-abounding way he does.

I did previously believe that life always got better.

When I reflect on my harsh response to this guy (who I gave the job to assuage my guilt), I realize that I was angry at all the hope I held when I was his age. I was literally trying to hamper the fire for life that he has by throwing cynicism and a good dose of reality his way. But it was really about my younger self. I was a little pissed at her.

Maybe if I hadn’t hoped for so much, then I wouldn’t be so disappointed and sad now.  

I recognize my faulty logic. I am doing my best to grieve in this season and not pop out into false optimism. I want integration more than I want false hope. I want healing and not first aid. I also want my heart to be large enough to bless those holding real hope. I don’t want to bring heaviness down on their hopeful parade.  

I don’t need to nail life anymore.

That’s the truth. I’m just tired of feeling like life is nailing me.  I recently watched a video that said: “Irritation can lead to intrigue, and intrigue to innovation.” That’s what I really want in the season I’m in. I want the irritation I felt to lead to my own questions about why I’m in such an opposite space from my young 20’s. I want the intrigue to invite me to innovate ways to access hope again. I do miss the open-ended hope of staring into one of my children’s baby eyes and thinking: everything is head of you.

That is a hopeful space.

I stare now into my oldest child’s eyes in his first semester of college and think more gently: Everything is ahead of you, still. I want to watch their lives unfold with hope in a God who desires good things for them. I want to believe that He still wants good things for me, too.  

Somewhere in the last few years, I’ve falsely believed God lives in the Big House with life figured out. But that’s not who I want Him to be.

I’d rather curl up on an outdated but comfy couch with a mess of a woman who can accept me for who I am.

I’m deconstructing perfection.

I don’t want to “nail it”. I’m just trying to live into the messes I’ve been born into and the ones I’ve made myself. I want comfort over unrealistic standards.

I wish I had belly-laughed with the floor guy. I wish I had said: “Yes, I used to have days like that. I really miss them. I hope to have that feeling again. Good for you!”

I don’t need to flatten anyone with my cynicism, maybe instead I could grin at their naivete while blessing the times I held the same.

by Shandee Mikesh

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