Patience is not one of my greatest virtues.
I like to get things done. I like knowing where I’m going, and just how long it’s going to take to get there. And if I can shave off a minute or two, I’ll do it every time.
I’m like this with myself too.
I see a problem and I fix it. I find an insecurity, or a mess, or a fear and I go after it. I work it out as efficiently as possible, promptly checking it off the list.
And often, this is a good thing.
But our greatest gifts can be our greatest curses, and my expediency is definitely a curse when it comes to all things DIY.
This summer, Carl took me to the largest flea market in Georgia. It was quite the experience—wandering through the vendors, antique dog statues, and more fabric than I ever knew existed.
We ate bar-b-cue at a folding table, and cooled off with buckets upon buckets of sweet tea.
We were trying to decorate my new bedroom—looking for furniture and trinkets—whatever would make it feel like home. But everything was either too expensive or not my taste and I was beginning to get discouraged.
But just then we rounded a corner and saw it. It was a hundred-year-old old barn door, the perfect size for a headboard.
After some sweaty deliberation, we shook the man’s one hand and put some bills in the other.
That door was ours.
We slid it into the back of Carl’s car, and tied the trunk closed, the door peeking out at least a foot. We drove home slowly and deliberately—trying not to lose the door in the midst of Atlanta rush hour, and trying not to worry as it started to rain.
Five months later we finally got to work. We started on a Saturday morning in November, sanding and cleaning. The door was filthy, and I watched as the 100-year-old dirt stained cloth after cloth after cloth.
I tried to help, but mostly worked on other small jobs, checking in every once in awhile and ordering pizza.
I tried not to pressure Carl, feeling bad as he sanded for hours with a rag tied around his face. But I was impatient to finish each phase of the project, wanting to check it off and move to the next.
It was getting close to midnight before we finally called it a night. The headboard wasn’t finished, but it was close. We congratulated ourselves on our progress, and propped the door against a pole on the deck, dragging our dust-covered selves inside.
I checked on it every day as I came home from work, making sure that the door was still there, still in the shape that we left it. But one day when I came home, something was terribly wrong.
I rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs and in an instant saw our headboard. It had blown over and cracked in half over a plastic deckchair.
I hated telling Carl the news.
When he saw it, his face was a perfect reflection of my own. We were heartbroken. All of our hard work was now just a pile of trash.
I had no idea if it could be repaired.
And this is the part in the story where I always want to quit.
There are things in my heart that God and I have been chipping away at for years—and they never seem to be fixed fast enough. And no matter how hard I’ve worked or prayed or how good I’ve been there are days when everything seems to fall apart.
And when things crash down, as they often do, it offers us the perfect opportunity to give up—to call it trash and throw in the towel.
But this headboard has grown something new in me—something I think they call “perseverance.”
Carl and I avoided my porch for a few days—trying not to think about the broken door. But finally, the next weekend, we decided to give it another shot.
We worked harder and better—correcting mistakes that we’d made the first time in our (my) haste to finish the project.
A month later, we finally finished the headboard. And as we arranged my pillows and took photos in front of it, I realized that all that work made it better than I ever could have dreamed.
And the same is true for me.
I’m being sanded and cleaned and painted afresh, and sometimes I make progress and sometimes progress feels slow (or non-existent).
But God isn’t satisfied with doing a quick clean up on my soul. And he’s more concerned with my heart than my timeline.
He’s working from the inside out, pulling out each piece and sanding and cleaning and sticking them back together, stronger this time.
And I’m grateful.
No, I’m not done, and I never will be.
But the headboard is—a tangible example of the beauty that can be created when you dig into the process, and when you refuse to give up.
Carl, thank you for my beautiful headboard.
What do you do when it feels like the work is too hard, or things are falling apart?