Friday, April 29, 2016

I Think I Can't or "The Little Engine that Couldn't"

July 11, 2014.  It’s probably a day that doesn’t mean much to you.  Nothing really important happened in the world.  I looked up news for that day...and there really wasn’t any.  All quiet on the Western front.
But it was a big day for the Cowden family.  We took possession of our “new” house over near Northlake.  Within a few days we had moved in.  Well, not really.  We had moved all our stuff into the house.  I’m a little embarrassed to tell you we didn’t get to what I would really call “moved in” until a month or so ago when we finally unpacked the last box and hung our pictures on the wall.  That was a big moment for me.
Which is not to say we are by any means finished with our work on the house.  In fact, tomorrow I’ll be at home with a guy who’s installing some flooring for us.  But it’s different now, because for a number of months the house told us what we would do next.  Now we get to decide for the most part what is most important to us and work on that.
I’m choosing to be optimistic that by this July 11, a full two years after we purchased the house, we’ll be able to live in it “normally.”  Which doesn’t mean it will be “all done” (what house ever is?)—it just means we can finally invite people over now and then and not feel ashamed.
When we first moved in I did all the work myself.  I’m a pretty handy guy, so I could handle it with occasional help from my father-in-law.  I won’t bore you with a complete listing.  Plumbing.  Electrical.  Paint.  No problem.
One change we really wanted to make was to replace all the fake paneling in the house with sheetrock.  I know how to do that, the hanging and the taping and mudding and all.  I’m just really slow at it.  Last summer, I said to Lisa, “Ok, I really want to do it, but one way or another it’s going to happen this summer.  If I can’t get to it this summer I’ll never be able to get to it, and we just need to hire someone.”
I hate paying for things I can do for so much less on my own.  But as June moved to July, it became clear that I wasn’t going to have the time to make it happen.  We were working on a future story scenario at the church, and the kids were at home for the summer, so it kept getting pushed down the list.  Finally, I called a guy to come do the work.
That.  Killed.  Me.
I felt like I had failed.  Caved in.  Taken the easy way out and wasted money that we could have used for something else.
But then it happened again a few weeks later when I hired someone to frame for a garage door and put a new window in the den.  Again, things I could have done myself if I’d had the time...but I couldn’t find the time.  Though I will admit I was happy to avoid cutting a hole in a brick wall.  Just for the record, I did the sheetrock work on the inside of that wall myself and it looks like a million bucks.
We decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to get a bunch of our floors done, and the same feelings came back.  I can do tile.  I can do vinyl plank flooring.  And I can save a lot of money in the process.  Why would I pay someone for this?  Priorities.  The money just isn’t as important as time with my family when my work already keeps me away from home two nights a week, every week.
You’d think this is a simple “money’s not everything” kind of article, and I guess it could be.  Time with family is more important that money.  But it’s not just the savings.  It’s a lot more than that.  It’s two really hard words: I can’t.  Just typing them makes me sweat.  I wasn’t raised that way.  I was raised to do it or die trying.  Never give up, because at least if  you fail you failed standing up.  And it’s especially hard when I know good and well I can do it!
Still.  I can’t.  I don’t have the time because other things are more important to me than doing my own drywall.  So I enlisted help.  And then I enlisted help again.  And I’ve come to realize that enlisting help isn’t a bad thing.  Sure, it costs more.  But this amazing thing happens when I enlist help: the work gets done.  It gets done well.  And it gets done on time.
Last Sunday’s concert on the square was a massive undertaking.  Massive.  There were so many moving parts I couldn’t possibly have managed it all.  But I didn’t have to!  I enlisted help.  And the result was something way way better than I ever could have made happen on my own.  That’s what the church is all about.  We are one body in the one Lord.  We all have something to offer.  We can all contribute to the awesome.
Maybe you’re not sure how you can help.  Pretty soon we’ll be presenting some tools to help you figure out how you can help.  But maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you know what you can do already—you just need to figure out what you can’t.  And then ask for help!

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