We have remodeled most of our house since we moved into it six years ago. We have completed most of the work ourselves and put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it. A couple of years ago we had our home loan refinanced. At the time when the assessor came by to do his inspection we had started work on converting what was our den into a master bedroom and had the whole room torn out down to the studs. It was quite funny seeing the look on his face when he asked, “What is this going to be? How do you want me to try to write this down?” After we got over that little hurdle of trying to explain how the den was going to be the master bedroom, I had to take him through the rest of the house. At this point I had to explain, among other things, that this room was the dining room that is now our master bedroom that will soon be the music room/den, that this room that is the living room will soon be the master bedroom, and that this room that is the old kitchen will soon be the homework room. Needless to say, he was at a loss of words to figure out how to write this all down and come up with a value for the house. Luckily, right after that I was able to take him into the completed kitchen and great room where he was able to see that we might know what we were doing and didn’t think we were out of our mind.

Recently, I started a home renovation project to open up the area underneath the stairs and create storage space for all of the stuff that accumulates in the front hall. That got me to thinking about how all of these projects work and how this might model what it takes to make a beautiful relationship in our life.

Most of my projects have not started by putting a new coat of paint on the area. There are some places where that works but not usually on the tough problems. Sometimes you just have to dig deeper and start below the surface.

Usually that means tearing everything out. You have to remove everything down to the bare studs and see what you have to work with. You have to see if there was enough support originally to keep things solid or if you need to brace up the old studs. Is your foundation stable?

From there you need to decide if you need to make changes to the old skeleton. Do you need to change the layout any or change the way the room works? You may need to decide if you have enough electrical outlets, lights, or insulation.

The next phase is to start putting things back together again. You need get up your sheetrock and start finishing it until you have a smooth wall with only minor imperfections. You then trim out around your doors, the floor, doors, and the ceiling. Finally, you get to paint it all up with sheetrock primer, primer, and a couple of coats of paint. The last touch is to add a few new switch and outlet cover plates and you are done.

I began to think about how I use my hammer during the transformation. The same hammer I use to tear down all of the old is the same hammer that I use to build the area back up. When we are facing problem areas in our lives sometimes we can’t just go and put a coat of paint on the problem. Sometimes we have to use our hammer and get down below the surface. Sometimes we need to take out all of the old, worn material that isn’t serving its purpose anymore and start again fresh. After we have stripped ourselves bare is when we can start to work on taking care of the issue. We may have to rebuild the relationship, strengthen up, and make a foundation that is solid to build on. Once we have taken care of the inside, the outside is usually the easy part to clean up and make new.

So, how are you using your hammer? Are you building a nice front on your problems or do you need to tear some things out and do some rebuilding?