When God Makes Things Right: Part 1
God may make some things right during our lifetime, others He may make right later on, but He will make all things right at some point.
The above photo is of my childhood bedroom. The reason I have any photo at all of it is that my father is interested in photography, and this photo was a light exposure experiment using the mannequin’s head as a prop. But let me tell you about my room, which was nothing more than an area sectioned off with some drapes and strategically placed furniture. I am fully aware that millions of children would be happy to have even this much of a room, but I am not addressing that point here; instead my purpose is to show how God loves His children and for whatever reasons, often “rights wrongs” and blesses them. This post is to illustrate that blessing.
My bedroom had no windows, no air conditioning (neither did the rest of the house, although a window unit sat in a cardboard box for nearly 20 years), nor did I even have an electric fan. During the night in the summer, I would throw water on my face in an attempt to cool down, and go back and lay in bed. This room became so hot, candles would melt. When it rained, the ceiling leaked. We saved large aluminum juice cans to catch the drips. Rags were placed in the cans so the dripping sound would not bother my father and keep him awake. The water would invariably soak the plywood floor, and it would buckle and warp and produce splinters that my feet would pick up. Over the years, the ceiling leaked in so many places, I had to move my bed in an attempt to find a dry location in my room. Eventually, there were no dry areas. in-between the 2X4 studs, you will see water stains and exposed electrical pipes. My mother drove nails into the 2X4s so I could hang my dolls up for “display”. She painted pieces of cardboard and nailed them to the wall so I could have a bulletin board…she tried to make my room livable. Eventually, the ceiling leaked over my father’s bed, and he just moved over to a dry area, placing a plastic dish pan on his bed to catch the drips.
In the winter, I wore gloves on my hands as I did my homework. On the wall towards the left, the boards had spaces between them, and if I had left a light on in the room at night, bugs came crawling out of those cracks seeking warmth.
Through out the house, there were electrical extension cords, open electrical boxes and exposed wiring. My father was an electrician, and we were warned never to touch those wires. Drywall was missing in the hallway, light “fixtures” in the ceiling had no covers. The back door was the only working door, the front door was on one hinge, and my mother would have to lift and move the door to open it. The rare visitor was instructed to go to the back door–we shouted to them from the other side of the front window. It would have been difficult to climb the front “steps” anyway–loose concrete blocks piled by the front porch. Some windows were never opened in the summer, as they lacked screens. Those that did have screens, Mom struggled by herself to remove the heavy storm windows as my father sat in the corner of the couch, reading. In fact, he sat there so long for so many years, the bottom fell out of the couch. If I remember correctly, books were place under where he sat to prop up the bottom.
Mice had the run of the house, and sometimes made it to the closet pantry. Mouse traps were constantly being emptied and re-set, and even at one point, we had rats. I vividly remember my father measuring out rat poison on a small scale, and then later, hearing that my mother and brother had killed a slow-moving rat in the kitchen with a broom. Rats crawled under the house and died–we were greeted with that stench as we opened our back door, and during the winter, we smelled it all winter long.
At one point, we had a snake and a bird in the house– they were not pets. My mother stuffed strips of rags around windows, and placed folded up newspapers where the window shuts in an attempt to keep out winter drafts. Once, when the hot water pipe leaked under our kitchen sink, my mother asked my father to repair it. He couldn’t get it to stop leaking, and just turned it off. Mom had to get hot water from the bathroom or boiled water in a tea kettle on the stove so she could have hot water to wash dishes. Our basement flooded during hard rains. The rain would come through the coal bin, and into the rest of the basement. Mom and my brothers would scoop the water into a bucket, take it outside to empty, and then place newspapers on the floor to soak up the moisture. A salamander lived in the basement… I think he acquired a name.
This is how we lived, this is what my brothers and I thought was “normal”. I remember not liking it but being powerless and not having the ability to change anything. As I grew and visited friends homes, I could see what actually was “normal”. I so wished I had a pretty bedroom, and I was embarrassed for friends to see my home.
Up Next: Part 2. God Makes Things Right.