Embedded in most 12 step programs is the concept of admitting that you have a problem. So right here, in broad internet daylight, I will make a confession.
I am a HGTV junkie.
From House Hunters to Designed to Sell to Holmes on Homes (the sweetest tough guy ever), I can watch the channel all day long. The recent blizzards in Philly have offered me an opportunity to completely binge out on my favorite episodes and, of course, drive my hubbie up the wall by sending dagger-like looks his way if he even tried to touch the remote. :)
In fact, I would go as far as to say that beyond learning how to drywall a basement or what colors work best in a master suite, I’ve also acquired some great nuggets on life itself from the network. Don’t believe me? You will.
On the shows where people are struggling to sell their homes, one of the most important things we are taught is that staging makes a big difference in whether a house gets sold quickly (urgency) and for how much (value). For those of you who are not HGTV-nista’s, home staging, according to stagingbug.com is “the process of preparing a home (and everything within the home) for sale, with a particular focus on presentation.”
Alas…revelation! I’ll explain.
You see after watching these shows, I had to ask myself, and now you, “Are you staging your life so that people can buy what you’re selling…with urgency and for what it is worth?”
I can hear you now. You’re shaking your head saying, “I don’t care what people think about me!” I get it. And you’re partially correct. How people view you shouldn’t define you; it shouldn’t impact your self-worth, sure! However, how people “see” you is important to those of us who claim to be representatives of Christ. No, you may not lose sleep if so-and-so doesn’t like you. Like is such a flaky word with a variety of meanings depending on who you talk to. Yet, you just might want to care how they see you if they, intentionally or unintentionally, have identified some new area of brokenness in you that has been left unaddressed. You know the feeling. We think we got it together; that, as grandma used to say, our witness is strong. Then out of nowhere some issue comes up as a result of someone else’s observation or a relationship that pulls on our weak spots and we are blindsided by our own stuff. What do we do? Well some of us, in the name of our version of Christianity, put on the pseudo-courage that we use as a mask to cover up our real selves---never really surrendering or dealing with the issue. Sadly, by doing that we also negatively impact and influence everyone around us; including those who are looking at us for the authenticity that only comes with Christ. Translation: Because of you, they’re not buying!
And by the way, the whole mask thing? That’s the bootleg version of staging. The kind that’s not used to enhance the real value of the home but to cover up major problems like water damage and mold. Yuck!
So, in an effort to stretch this analogy as far as I can, here are a few more critical lessons learned from those prophetic staging experts over at HGTV. Enjoy!
1) Clutter sucks: I don’t know how many episodes of Designing to Sell I’ve seen where people who are trying to sell their home have a million toys covering their fireplace or large clunky furniture that takes up the entire room. Inevitably, the designer will stress to them the importance of de-cluttering so that the buyer can see past your stuff and actually envision themselves living there.
So that got me to thinking…can the visitors in our lives, including those who truly want to believe, see themselves serving Christ also based on how you present Him? Or, do you have so much of your personal junk in the way that they actually miss the heart of who you really are and/or have become in Him?
2) Neutrality is not the same as indecisiveness. – Some people are okay with plain white walls. For some, it is a design choice but for most others it is a function of not knowing what color really works. Many designers stress neutral tones when trying to sell a house but they don’t necessarily encourage blandness. In other words, they don’t want to overwhelm the buyer with bright colors that may not be “where they are” in that moment but they don’t want to bore them to death either. Again, it is about creating a balanced experience that can help the buyer see themselves in the house.
Well, how about us? Do we overwhelm the people that we meet, beating them over the head with our religion instead of soothing them with His love? Are we bright and sunshiney, which by itself is not a bad thing, except when we become so consumed by our own brightness that we can’t recognize and eventually address someone else’s darkness. Or worse, are we just so undecided about our own spiritual state that we would rather remain bland and boring…borderline irrelevant? That’s definitely not attractive to anyone who is trying picture themselves serving God and are using our lives as the model.
3) Personalization is great if you’re planning to live there…not so much if you’re trying to sell: Beyond the issue of clutter, some people just like wall paneling in their basement. Or floral wall paper in their dining room. Or shag carpeting in the bedroom. And according to the design prophets, that’s okay if you are planning to live in the home yourself. But those “personal” tastes can sometimes take away from the heart of the home when you are trying to sell it.
So how many of us have said, “I am who I am. Take it or Leave it.” Yep. Me, too. But unfortunately what we forget to share with people is that who we are is a mean, jealous, conniving wretch of a person. Sure. “Being you” works if you plan to live in that place your entire life; never growing, never allowing God to transform the hurt, sin, pain, and anguish that shapes all of us at times, into the authentic, loving person he designed you to be. Why do we run from showing “our bones” as they say in the design world? Yes, some aspects of our personality are God-given distinctions but others are simply a function of what we’ve acquired throughout of life, some of which can distract others from seeing how God is using you to bless them.
I could go on and on really. I could talk about how stagers emphasize the importance of having lots of light in your home or how both historic homes and newer construction have different needs. Whew, there is SO much there! Well, maybe I’ll continue this another day…
Would love to hear your thoughts!