After I married Keith, we moved to Montana from Arizona, and we built a sweet little house out on some land. We wanted a place the kids could stretch their legs, play and explore. The house was a ton of hard work, especially for my husband Keith, who did a lot of it himself. He installed these beautiful, Acacia wood floors; because they were multicolored, with hues of cherry and walnut, we felt the color might hide some of the imperfections that come with having a blended family of four kids and two, large dogs. The other day, as I was cleaning the floors, I noticed that in the short time we have lived in our home, our stunning wood floor had already become scratched and pitted, showing many more imperfections than I anticipated. My first instinct upon noticing the damage was an attitude of “oh well” I guess the floors will just have to be replaced in the next few years, they are too damaged.

I sat with that feeling for a few minutes, and I experienced sadness.

Just too damaged??

What a waste.

Beyond repair?

What a waste.

I felt sad for the hard work that went into the floors when they were laid, just two years earlier.

Sad for the monetary investment that would be lost if we just pulled them up and replaced them.

Sad that we didn’t take better care, show more gentleness, compassion, and concern for what we already had.

Why was I so quick to want to throw in the towel and replace the floor?

Is this desire to just quickly replace rather than repair become a cultural thing? We aren’t taught to take care of what we have, to put in the time to protect, or the energy to repair?

Keith and I have been married for four years now, and the truth is, our marriage is very much like our wood floors. On the surface, and in the right light, it’s beautiful. It’s full of depth, intense colors, creamy texture and everything we dreamed of when we said, “I do.” When you look closer, you see the scratches, the dents, and the imperfections of a blended family trying to make it work despite the different roads that brought us to this place. The harsh midday sun reveals the discoloration from stressful situations, arguments, children who push their boundaries and aren’t sure this new family is what they want. Children who say hurtful words and cut deep with looks.

Some days, the life, just like the floor feels beyond repair.

It’s just too much work.

Maybe it is easier to walk away and start again.

Maybe we should replace and not repair?

Now and again, I reflect on my life before Keith, the history I had with my late husband, Mitch. In hindsight, the late evening light always hits that floor perfectly because when people die, we romanticize, we place them and their lives on a pedestal, and we give them sainthood status. Mitch wasn’t a Saint, and our life wasn’t perfect, but it was really, really good. We had damaged floors too but replacing them was never a choice for us, until I was no longer given the decision to repair because the floor was destroyed without our consent.

Death leaves carnage in its wake.

As I sit here today, observing the floor of my life, I realize just how much work it takes to develop a relationship worth saving. It is never easy; it takes years of experiences, both good and bad, friendship, trust, and unwavering love by each person to develop a floor that shouldn’t be considered damaged but rather stunningly distressed, and aren’t distressed floors the most beautiful of all?

Distressed wood reflects all the hard work it took to not only lay it down in the first place but also the steps to salvage it along the way. The hours of sanding, buffing and resurfacing required to help the floor look beautifully warn and give the essence of home.

Stories and floors like that don’t just happen, they develop over years and years, sunrise to sunset, seasonal storms that damage and warm summer evenings where the light hits them just right.

That’s the floor and the relationship to repair again and again until it’s worn with the character and heart reflective of true history and love.