As I was on my third trip to Home Depot to pick up yet another item, I was beginning to wonder how such a “simple” project could take so long. It was only a small section of siding that I was replacing and, by now, it was midafternoon and I was tired. I knew I would be happy and satisfied when it was completed, but right now I wasn’t feeling it.
This was a continuation of the mad dash of projects that my wife and I started this spring in preparation for our daughter’s graduation open house. You know, people coming over and inspecting your life – or so we thought.
We had a list longer than our collective life spans, but that didn’t stop us from being optimistic that we could finish it all before the big day. Well, we didn’t. We got a few things done, and that was still more than what we had accomplished in the previous five years.
As the dust settled after the open house and we reflected back on what we actually did get done, we wondered why we had waited so long. Are we just lazy? We are homeowners, and being one requires a regular infusion of work to keep things up. It wasn’t like the place was falling apart, but we could have definitely done better.
When I returned from Home Depot after picking up electrical tape, I finally finished the siding project that evening. I was happy. But the work that went into it was such a hodgepodge of victory and disappointments that it was a wonder that there was a completion at all. So here is my question. Do we avoid these types of projects because they are so much work? Or is it because we are regularly completely exhausted? Maybe it’s a little of both.
Let me tell you a little bit about my day. Goal: Replace eight pieces of 9’ hardboard siding on the back of my house. Time estimate: 4 hours. Start time: 8:00 a.m. First, I took a few trips to bring back all the necessary tools and equipment to the back of the house. I ripped all the old siding off. So far, so good. Then I noticed some additional problems (some rotted sheathing). More tools and more trips to the garage. Cut out bad section, cut a new section, and replace. Electrical boxes need replacement (did not discover until I ripped off siding). Trip to Home Depot number one. Replace electrical box. Discover that there is no house wrap under the siding. Begin to cover section with house wrap (more trips to the garage). Break to eat lunch. My swing stapler runs out of staples. Spend twenty minutes looking for staples. No luck. Use backup electrical stapler. Backup stapler is defective and stops working. Trip to Home Depot number two to get staples for swing stapler. Swing stapler is jammed. Starts to rain. Spend thirty minutes investigating and fixing stapler. Finish applying house wrap. Start applying siding. Making good progress. Finish installing last piece of siding. Break for dinner. Begin caulking the siding (after more trips to the garage). Electrical wire has a big nick in the insulation – must repair. Look for electrical tape. Trip to Home Depot number three. Finish the electrical work. Project complete. Clean up and bring all the tools and equipment back to the garage. End time: 8:00 p.m.
The battle to fight through all of these obstacles and finish is a minor miracle in itself. Constant interruptions, things missing, multiple trips to the garage, forgetting where I put things, multiple trips to the store. On top of all of that, my wife was helping me. So, a combination of frustration and working with another frustrated person was not a good mix.
Later that evening, I got to thinking about my project. I thought, whoever said it was going to be easy? Who said it should be fast? Should it have all unfolded like a nice Sunday newspaper? I think people can get fooled into the notion that things are always fast and easy. Have you ever watched the show This Old House? They can get things fixed and accomplished in a mere thirty minutes. News flash! That isn’t how it works!
The joy I have of finishing the project is deeper than just having new siding on the house. It is also from overcoming obstacles along the way. It is from pushing through when I wanted to quit. In the end, it is a greater appreciation of what it takes to get things done. It is called work! Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is exhausting, and sometimes you want to quit.
I am certainly not advocating that we have to “work” in every situation order for us to achieve great results. Without rest, we cannot do any effective work. The balance between the two is what ultimately keeps us effective.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Jesus did not say that He would remove your yoke and remove your burden. He said he would make them light. You still have a yoke, and you still have a burden, and you still need to make an effort.
But here is the result. If you push through, the next time it isn’t so tough. You start to build mental callus. You get a little stronger, and little things don’t become big things. Accomplishments are a little sweeter because you have persevered through it all. Confidence grows because now you know you can do it. You have overcome and you are ready to take on the next challenge.
My to-do list is getting shorter – not by much, but it is moving in the right direction. I am ready to attack the next project because my armor is fresh, my mind is willing, and smell of victory is still lingering in the air.read more