We recently repaired our front porch. I say 'we' but by 'we' I don't mean me at all but more so Justin's friend Damian, with Hubby and Justin there as support. I wanted to have our back porch fixed first, because if you can believe it, both the front and back of our house were equally a mess. As we entered and exited our home each day, I realized the front porch steps were bouncing up and down with us at we stepped on them. It wasn't until the railing of the steps was completely separated from the balusters* holding it up that I gave in to the realization that the front porch needed to be our priority.
*Please do not think I am fancy. I originally called them dowels until I went to www.homedepot.com and discovered those rods are actually called balusters.
Justin's best friend, Damian, is an excellent carpenter. Not only did he do an amazing job on our porch, but he did it after working ten-hour days on construction jobs.
Currently unemployed, I knew that once the porch was completed the job of painting it would fall into my lap.
Knowing how horrible I am at being neat while painting, I forced myself to make peace with this. After all, Hubby had helped to fix the porch and he was working ten hour days himself. There was no excuse I could offer to squirm my way out of painting.
The date I planned to paint the porch revolved around the weather and days that I knew no one would be coming over. The paint needed at least 24 hours before it could be walked on, so I planned to start painting early in the morning so that it would be walk-able by the next day.
Only I'd forgotten that the sun rises facing my front porch and that it feels as if you are standing only inches away from the sun when you stand on my porch at 8 am.
But my plans! There was no way around painting at that time. I'd made so many plans for the rest of my day. My plans were organized. I had written them down. They were unchangeable.
Stubbornly, I prepared to paint. It took me twenty minutes to sweep and prepare the porch for the painting. After one side of railing took an hour, and all I was doing was painting over and over again the sides and fronts of the balusters, I was ready to curse the day I promised to paint the porch. The right side of my face, I was sure, was reddened by the sun's pressing glare.
I wanted to quit, badly. Only I could just see Hubby's reaction when he came home, expecting to find the entire porch painted, to find only one side of railing painted, and poorly at that.
I pressed on, starting with the other side of railing. By the time I had finished all of the railings it was the time I had expected to be finished the entire porch.
Even if I hadn't promised to take Jonathan to Gram's pool at that time, I would have found myself leaning towards quitting. I had been working in the sun for five hours, monotonously painting balusters over and over. Some part of me expected that Hubby would see the railings completed and understand all this. Of course, as I was having my pity party I had forgotten just how many long hours of their own time the men had put in to fixing my porch.
I picked Jonathan up still in my paint attire, which was a scruffy mess that ordinarily I wouldn't be caught dead in. It wasn't until I had Jonathan in the car that I realized I hadn't eaten anything that day and I could feel my hunger demons pressing within me for release.
I couldn't wait for Gram to offer her usual spread of meatballs, cheese steaks, pizza, eggs and bacon, steaks, etc. I needed food immediately. We swung by Taco Bell, I ordered the entire menu, and we headed to Gram's to eat.
Reminder: Gram lives alone and she's 81-years-old.
Before I was out of my car, Gram was asking me questions while also telling me about everything important occurring in her life. My head throbbed from the heat as it took in Gram's incessant chatter, the stickiness of paint left between some of my fingers, and the spicy warmth of ground beef in my waiting tacos. I grunted to every question she asked. I didn't make eye contact. I headed for the table, wanting nothing more than to eat my food so I could be transformed back into something more like the normal version of me.
"What's the matter?" Gram finally asked as I began savagely ripping into my chalupa. "You're not your usual happy peppy self."
"I was in the sun painting the porch all morning," I said dryly between bites.
"I painted the porch today," I said not looking up.
Jonathan sat near Gram, smiling as he bit into a burrito I had treated him to. He giggled at her, talked happily, and offered her a bite.
"Jonathan you're always happy, always so pleasant and sweet," she smiled at him.
I ignored her and continued eating. My stomach was slowly calming down, but my head still felt the press of the sun upon it.
"Jonathan never has a bad mood. He's nice to everyone all the time," Gram continued.
Though I was aggravated as the words left her lips, they began to haunt me as the day continued. I began to feel ashamed, not only for how I treated Gram but for my attitude towards people I don't like, those who have wronged me, or those who just plain get on my nerves. Gram was right. Jonathan has no enemies. He loves everyone and approaches everyone with the same sweetness, regardless to how they may have treated him.
I imagine that must be how it is for God. He constantly has those who turn their back on him, those who sin against him, and those who do things that hurt him, but he, like Jonathan, remains loving towards them, willing to give them a second chance, willing to press through exhaustion and pain to show he still cares for them.
I know my grandmother wasn't trying to teach me a lesson in the words she said that day, but I'm glad I opened my ears to hear more than just a commentary on the niceness of Jonathan. In it, I think I may have touched upon the heart of God.