In August, when our fifteen-year-old son Derek was away at camp, I got sneaky. I moved out the western decor that had been in his room for years and updated the look with a theme that fit his interests. Within our 24-hour decorating time restraints, the Lord blessed us with some great finds at garage sales and store clearance shelves, and helped us see things in our own home that we could move to his room to create the new look.
The room was set except for one piece. I wanted to replace his cluttered shelves with a dresser. Chris and I visited resale furniture shops all over town and couldn’t find anything that would work.
Two months into the search, I stopped at an estate sale. They had a nice dresser that looked like it would be perfect to paint for Derek’s room. It included a mirror and side table, which I didn’t really need, but it still looked like a good possibility. I was trying to get a better look at it, but two women were standing in front of it…or maybe a better word for it would be “guarding it”. I asked them if they were buying the set, and they said they didn’t know, continuing to hold their hands out on each side of them to achieve maximum coverage. One woman feverishly pressed the buttons on her phone, then went on to describe the furniture and what a great deal it was. After learning her friend wasn’t interested, she gave a big sigh and called another number. “This dresser is incredible, and for such an unbelievable price. Do you have a place for it in your house?…No? Are you sure?” They stood there (yes, still in “guard mode” as they could see I was still in “wait mode”) lamenting the fact that they couldn’t believe this was such an incredible deal and they couldn’t find anyone who could use it (Hello, I’m right here!) Then they began brainstorming more friends they might call.
In an attempt to not say or do anything that I would later regret, I took a deep breath and prayed a quick prayer for patience. Just then a table covered with stuff over in the corner caught my eye. Pulling back the table cloth, I could see it was another dresser. Solid wood. Paintable. A little shorter than the other dresser, which would be nice for Derek’s small room. Could definitely work. But it didn’t have a price, so I wasn’t sure if it was for sale. I found a salesman, and he told me to make an offer. I figured he would want a hundred dollars for it, and was just about to say, “Would you take seventy-five for it?” when I remembered my garage-sale-shopping rule about letting the other person be the first to state the amount. When I hesitated, he said, “How about forty?” Fighting the urge to jump up and down, I did my best to calmly reply that I would take it.
It was an easy paint job – one coat of black spray primer, then two coats of black spray paint. It dried outside on the back patio and was ready to be moved to Derek’s room when I came across another can of black spray paint in the garage paint closet. It read “high lustre gloss perfect for furniture finishing”…but what I didn’t notice (or at least comprehend) was the word “lacquer”. I quickly grabbed it and ran to apply one final coat that I thought would perfectly finish off the paint job with a high-lustre gloss.
Within five minutes of coating the dresser, bubbles began to appear. That was when the word “lacquer” caught my eye. I’ve covered a water-based paint with an oil-based paint!!! Big mistake. As the paint continued to raise up I realized I had a choice to make: either live with a dresser that looked like it had a severe rash, or scrape. Moments like this have earned me the name “Anxious Annie” by my husband — another fabulous idea quickly executed gone bad.
My husband patiently worked alongside me with a scraper, and all the layers of paint on the top of the dresser peeled off like a banana peel. For some reasons, the sides just peeled a little, giving it a grainy distressed look. Could I like this? Maybe, but my disappointment shrouded any hope I had of being finished with this project. I moved it to the covered patio to dry again, and walked away.
A few days later I realized I did like the look. It wasn’t your normal run-of-the-mill black dresser. This thing had character! After checking with a couple of neighbors who gave two thumbs up, I moved it to Derek’s room. It was perfect and just what we needed.
Later I reflected on my dresser situation and two verses:
- In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). I could have pushed through to get what I thought I wanted, dresser #1. The frustrating roadblock to it may have been God’s way to provide a more affordable, just-what-I-needed item that was a better size.
- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). My haste produced what looked to be a disaster. All the work I had done had been in vain. However, it turned out to be something beautiful — I liked it more than the one I had imagined.
Father, help me to rest daily in your provision and your plan for me. Thank you for making something good of my mistakes, and for working in ways beyond my greatest imagination.
Now if I can just convince Chris and the boys to move the large armoir down the stairs and out to the back so the dresser can have a matching piece….