It looks like the bathtub is finally getting fixed! So I thought when I arrived back at our mission center to find a man respraying the bathtub in our front bathroom.

Our home is aging, and the previous occupants appear to have been fond of green enamel in their bathrooms. We’d survived this surprising color choice for some time, but now the green enamel was starting to chip, so it was finally time for a proper renovation. I admit, seeing the bathtub’s renewed shiny whiteness was truly gratifying. The man worked quickly, much quicker than expected, and almost before I knew it, the bathtub looked as good as new!

And then… Well, as you might have guessed, only days after, we noticed the sparkly white was giving way to… green? It turned out that instead of removing the old enamel properly—a painstaking process—the man had simply painted a fresh layer on top. And that layer was now flaking off. No wonder the job had been completed so quickly! The glossy white appearance was just a facade, and not a lasting one. The bathtub looked worse than ever.

I like to call the life lesson this experience taught me the Bathtub Principle. It goes as follows:

  • When I need to change an area of my life, I need to start by removing old habits, methods, thought patterns, and routines. Painstaking as it is, it’s absolutely necessary. I cannot paint over issues or mistakes, hoping that the new look will mean all is right in my world. If I do, I’ll end up being worse off than before.
  • Quality matters. Improvements need to be made by the right person, using the right materials.

More than once, the Bathtub Principle comes to my mind when I’m tempted to adjust appearances, instead of putting in the effort to make true transformations. Jesus is my choice of heart-renovator, and His precious words my resources, every time.