I’ve been thinking about the passage of time. As in, our church will soon be celebrating 60 years of service to the Cheyenne community. In 60 years, a foundation can be laid (both physically and spiritually), a building or group of people can mature, they can be buffeted and worn down by internal and external challenges, and they can renew their zeal and commitment. It’s a cycle applicable to many things in life from organizations to buildings to people. A summer of house painting and window replacing has reminded me of the cycle and challenged me to consider that for true renewal to occur more than surface issues must be addressed before the “whole” is restored to vitality.
Our small house, built in 1924, is nearing the century mark and we’ve lived in it now for nearly 15 years. Since 1924, the house has undoubtedly gone through cycles of proper care followed by disrepair many times (I found pipes wrapped in newspapers from World War II that crumbled in my hands). The house has lived through ups and downs in Cheyenne’s economy, changing weather patterns, and more than a couple of owners. When we bought it, the place was at a low point, a true “fixer upper” that’s challenged our patience and do-it-yourself spirits. But we’re getting close to completing the transformation (though one is never really done, right?).
As part of that transformation we’ve spent the summer painting the exterior and we replaced many windows. The new paint color, revitalized porch, and other cosmetic changes have made the old place look pretty good. Except for one glaring foundational item…the front door sill. How much thought do you give your door sill? Not much, right? When it works, you step on it and it supports the threshold, and provides a stable entry to your home (not to mention keeping critters and weather out). Our sill has seen better days and despite attempts to repair it over the years, it had to be replaced.
We knew the sill needed replaced for several years but I kept putting it off. We talked about hiring somebody but I insisted I could do it myself (thanks for that philosophy, Dad and Mom!). But I let it sit and sit because I’m no carpenter and the project scared me. I studied books, articles, and This Old House videos…I knew what to do but was afraid to actually rip it out lest my skills not be up to the challenge. So every time I’ve driven up to the front of the house to park in the past couple years, the sill has mocked me for being afraid to rip it out and replace it. And the mocking grew louder this year as the rest of the house grew in beauty while the ugly, worn-out sill remained.
This past weekend, though, I garnered the courage to end the mocking. Jennifer and I found a rough oak piece of lumber on Saturday. And then Sunday after church (with thoughts generated by the worship service ringing in my head of complacency, and holding things together with a common thread, and renewing our zeal) I cut out the old sill, fashioned a new one, installed it, and now Jennifer’s completing the sealing and painting (we make a great team!).
The sill shall mock me no more! Yes, I encountered obstacles, and today I’m sore from physical aspects of the project. But, other than the painting, it’s done! Something I’d let scare me into inaction for several years, now completed in the course of one afternoon and evening. Many lessons to be gleaned, I’m sure, but I’ve not sorted them all out. But I do know that in life the thing that most keeps me from succeeding in various endeavors is my insecure self that thinks “I can’t” instead of “let’s give it a try.”
In part 2 I’ll share an image of the completed sill, that small taken-for-granted foundational item that must be intact and doing its job for the house to reach its full potential.
What things in life have mocked you? And how did you overcome?