I’ve always tried to live up to the name Miranda, which my mom bestowed because her book of baby names defined it as “deserving of admiration,” but I have some flaws. First of all, writers’ grammar and punctuation mistakes nearly give me an aneurysm.
Second, I spent over 20 years bouncing from one relationship to another. And because I dated duplicitous men and grew up with a father who beat and choked my mom, I became an independent woman who started traveling solo but continued to shovel sugar down her throat to keep from telling people everything on the tip of my tongue.
All of these, including the S-word, are sins against God.
Why I Became God’s Home Improvement Project
Since “[s]in is a perversion of God’s perfect design,” as the website Got Questions stated, and God takes up residence inside of us via the holy spirit after we get saved, God turned me into a home improvement project last summer. By that point, I’d been a Christian for over four years. According to Pastor Tony Evans, I should’ve been well on my way to being a mature Christian.
“Maturity is the process of growing up spiritually. … It is the process of becoming more like Christ in character and conduct, attitudes and actions,” he said. “[The apostle] Paul, on a number of occasions, had to chide the church for their lack of growth. In 1 Corinthians chapter 2, [verse] 14 all the way through chapter 3, verse 3, he talks about the fact that there were spiritual people, but many … were still carnal.” Looking at those verses, Evans deduced that “it takes five years to move from infancy to spiritual maturity if it’s a priority.”
Unfortunately, old habits die hard, so God “came in like a wrecking ball,” to quote Miley Cyrus.
How the Home Improvement Project Started: Power Failure
Much like Tom Hanks’ house in “The Money Pit,” I suffered power problems. Despite graduating summa cum laude as an English and communication double major and sending potential employers letters of recommendation in which my university’s creative writing program director described me as a “natural, relentless, and relentlessly fussy editor” and said I “easily count[ed] among the five or six most naturally talented writers [he’d] met in 20 years of teaching,” I couldn’t find a writing or editing job anywhere after I quit a freelancing proofreading position in a huff.
“[S]ometimes God will let you fail at what you know you’re good at because he’s got to break down your pride and your thinking that you know how to do anything,” T.D. Jakes said. “[H]e wants you to know that without him, you can do nothing, and he will shut every door. You can’t get a job at a pie factory. You can’t get anything going. Nobody’ll help you. Everything’s shut down in your life. …
“Peter threw nets all night and caught nothing. Nothing. All night. He’s an experienced fisherman. He toiled all night. … He fished till he was naked, and he still couldn’t catch nothing. And in the morning … Jesus comes walking down by the seashore, eating a fish sandwich, letting him know, ‘What you’re fishing for, I’ve already got it. What you’re trying to find, I’ve already got it in my hand. It’s not in your hand. It’s not in your nets. It’s not in your boat. What you’re hungry for is in my hand. Can’t nobody love you like me. Can’t nobody help you like me. Can’t nobody be there for you like I can. Everything you’ve been searching for all of your life is in my hand.'”
How the Restoration Process Started
If you’ve been following this blog/memoir for a while, you know God starts the restoration process by fixing a person’s foundation. Mine became cracked while my father beat and choked my mom and called me stupid when I was a kid, so God allowed me to become homeless and then sent me to my father’s house to repair that relationship.
Next, he began hammering away at the binge eating I’d started as a teen because making me allergic to nearly everything I enjoyed at age 38 hadn’t corrected the problem. As I listened to Radio 1000 from a U-Haul van containing all my worldly possessions, Bishop Noel Jones said:
“At every level you move on as you begin to gather momentum in being like the lord, you will move to a level where something else has to die in order for you to get to the next level of life. And on each level, things have to die for things to live … because as I move from one level to another, I can’t drag something with me. I have to kill it in order to move to the next level of life. … Because unless it dies, we will revisit. …
“[God wants] to add new dimensions, but you can’t add new dimensions in occupied space. [God wants] to add new dimensions, but you can’t add new dimensions on old issues. I want to patch up what’s going on, [but] God says, ‘No. Resurrections don’t patch up. Resurrections bring new life.’ …
“[T]here are things going on in my head that [do] not allow me to have peace until I kill [them] — not temporarily but permanently. It has to die for me to be released, because as long as it’s there, I will revisit. …
“Many times, we have missed our move in God because we could not kill what has to die. … I liked it even though it was killing me. I loved it even though it was against me. Can you imagine getting a report from the doctor that the pork is killing you, that you can’t eat pig no more? And I don’t care what you see on the X-ray … the pork may be killing you, but you love the pork so much that you take a chance and eat it every now and then. And sometimes you holler, ‘Oh, I’m healed, I can eat a ham sandwich — God healed me,’ because you can’t let go of it. There are things in your life that have to die out, but you’ve been doing it for so long and enjoying it for so long that it brings an agony. You hate to let it go … [but] you must do what you hate to do in order for you to achieve what God intends for you to achieve. I’m talking to somebody here that needs to move to the next level.”
Sitting in front of a Motel 6, that somebody was me, but I was working for a grocery store bakery, where I was eating tubs of buttercream frosting during my breaks and had no desire to stop. Aside from my cats, clothes, and shoes, it was the only thing I had left.
Weeks later, God took the job and the frosting cravings but not before I’d sunken to a new level by devouring a tub of frosting I’d wedged between my legs as I flew back to the hotel to get my cats out of our room before checkout because the weekend rate had skyrocketed from $53 during the week to $84 Friday night and $120 on Saturday because Tiger Woods was in town. I will never forget getting back in the van, glancing at the frosting-tinged spoon lying on the ledge beneath the radio, and thinking, “I look like a crack addict.” Because, of course, I was.