Thursday, July 27, 2006

Painting Drama and God's Gracious Care

I have an unfortunate tendency (let's call it a "sinful nature") to be rude or demanding to customer service people when I am dissatisfied with their product or service. Many times I have hung up after a phone call only to feel guilty for my snotty, arrogant tone of voice with the unlucky person on the other end. When really, the person I am speaking with is usually not personally responsible. And even if they are...does that justify my rudeness?

I don't want to be this way, so I'm trying to work on it. I have learned again and again that 1) all communication goes better when you seek first to understand, then to be understood, and 2) you can be firm about what you expect, but you also need to be considerate toward the human being you're telling all about your problem. These lessons have been reinforced through my recent experiences with Lowe’s (I really, really wish they had a credit card with reward points...we would be earning lots of free stuff). Anyway...

I knew before I decided on any other colors that I really, really wanted a deep red dining room. What I didn't realize was that my red dining room would be the source of the drama. Apparently red is the absolute worst color to paint with, which no one at Lowe's mentioned until after the drama was well underway (not that I would have changed my mind...but it would have been good to know).

Painting the dining room went something like this: Buy gray primer, because the brochure at Lowe's shows how gray primer will give you a truer, more vivid red than white primer or even primer tinted red. Not sure why, but okay. Apply first coat of primer. Does not cover paint underneath. Apply second coat of primer. End up with black dining room.

Apply first coat of red paint. Consistency is like primer, so thin it will never, ever cover this dining room, thinner than all other paint used so far. Take back to Lowe's. [Pray for grace to be polite and not demanding.] When they see the thin paint, they give a new can free AND your money back (yay for Lowe's customer service). Have your wonderful parents stay later than planned to help you apply coat #2. Open can #2. Notice that it is better, but still extremely thin. Go back to Lowe's. Have them color match into a different brand of paint because clearly this paint is not cutting it. Apply coat #2 with can #3. Much better, but notice that it still does not cover because your recommended gray black primer is so dark.

Return to Lowe's and buy can #4 because you do not have enough paint for another coat. Calmly and with a smile explain all the drama to the person helping you this time, who by the grace of God happens to be a manager, who can give you the newest can for only $5 even though you didn't ask him to, because "we're sorry to hear you've had so many problems and here at Lowe's we like to have happy customers." Walk out smiling at God's provision and thankful for great customer service (but still slightly frustrated at having to put yet another coat on the walls).

Explain the drama to your husband, who HATES painting and who expected that all the painting would be done when your parents left. Your wonderful husband will then offer to help you apply the final (you're praying that coat #5 will, in fact, be the final coat) coat that very night. He will do so without complaint and finally, after much ado, you will end up with a cranberry-colored dining room. (You will have black primer all over the white trim because it leaked under the stupid blue masking tape...but thankfully there’s leftover living room paint from the previous owner, nestled in the basement among the black widows.)

Seriously, though, through of all the drama, I am so thankful for God's gracious care. It may seem silly here, but I can't even count how many times from the very beginning of the house-buying process we have seen Him provide for us--in huge ways (like finding a house we love quickly, or being able to buy a house in the first place, or generous parents) and in small, seemingly insignificant ways (like a gift card rebate and free delivery on a new refrigerator, or a five-dollar can of paint). I'm just reminded that He numbers the hairs on our head and He cares for us in all of life's details! We're praying that by His grace, this new house would not be just a bunch of furniture and painted walls, but a place where He is exalted and glorified, a place where others experience His grace.


Natalie said...

I'm so sorry about the drama with the painting but I'm so excited for you and all the new house "stuff" - it is harder than expected but the richness of having a place of YOUR own is so worth it. I'm SO EXCITED for you and Steve. I know your home will be a beacon of God's grace, peace and love to many others! :)

Combs said...

Painting is a horrible job, even when you're beeing paid to do it. Thankfully your experience turned out well. I've been losing track of everyone latly, but I'm glad to hear that God is still teaching you through the small things.

a suburban housewife said...

Oh, the joys of red paint. I have a red kitchen. Red is the color of energy, and since I spend more time in the kitchen than any other room, I wanted to be energized, ya know?

My kitchen is actually a Waverly cherry. It went on PINK, yes- pink. My husband said, "Deep breaths, honey" several times and explained that paint always dries darker than the wet color (as evidenced by your gray-turned-black primer!!). It did turn the beautiful cherry color on the color chip- eventually.