My daughter graduates this weekend. Pretty crazy to think how fast time has flown. She was a little girl just yesterday, and now she is a beautiful young woman getting ready to take on the world. Graduation has pretty much consumed our thoughts and spare time lately as we get ready to celebrate, but I’m not here to talk about that today. We’re going in a different direction.
Getting ready for the open house has brought a whirlwind of activity to our home. There was a fence to build, rocks to move, flower beds that need work, a barn to decorate, food to prepare, and worst of all… a house to paint. My wife knows the dread that I feel when it comes to painting the house, and I will admit she is probably feeling even more stress about food and decorations, but for me, the house has been the big thing that has been hanging around my neck. The main reason?
I live in an old farm house built around the turn of the century. (That would be the 20th century.) When you live in a house this old, there are always things that need to be maintained, and one of the things that I just hate dealing with is the caulk. It would be bad enough if you just had to go out and slop a brush around for a few days to get the job done, but there is more when you live in a piece of history. I have the joy of all the scraping and caulking before I do the painting. Seriously, the amount of caulk that goes into getting my house ready to paint is staggering, but necessary if I want to keep the outside out and the inside dry. When I get lax in it, I get…
We have had to attack rot a few times in the past, but it is getting harder. Some of that is because the time I have to put into staying on top of the painting process has been limited over the last few years, Things just get a little worse before the planets reach the proper alignment for me to get after it again. I have to admit though, that a bigger part of it is that I just don’t like to do it.
So, this year we need to get the house painted to make it look nice before the open house. As I started into it I found what I was expecting – Rot. Some of it was visible (and a little overwhelming to look at), but when I would start removing the visible, I would come face to face with worse.
We had some ant damage in one wall, and the time frame (and checkbook) does not allow for a major repair at this time. So, I pulled out as much as I could, installed some new wood with rreeeaallllyyy long screws, and caulked things back up again. From the outside it looks great, but I know what lies beneath.
When I’m honest with myself, I can say that I am a lot like my house. There are times that I really don’t want to take a hard look at making any changes or improvements on myself because I just don’t feel like putting in the time and effort. I know the effort would be worth it, but I’m comfy right now, so I want to let it go “a little longer”. The thing is, that just makes it, “a little harder”.
There are things I can see that need work (getting in shape), but when I start picking at them, I end up finding larger problems underneath (lack of discipline, laziness). It is easier to not look too hard, because I might just have to keep digging (pride, idolizing food). You see the dangers of looking inside? It makes me face what is at the root of the problem.
Me. My wants, thoughts, opinions, habits, and tendencies. It all comes back to me.
I made some honest assessments about my house. Some repairs were made that should last, but others were just a bandaid. I will need to come back to them and make things right. If I don’t come back and do what needs to be done, then I will see things continue to decline until I wake up one night looking at the stars, not through an open window, but through a hole that has appeared in the wall!
The honest assessment of myself also requires a response. Some things I can take care of quickly, others will take more time, and some of them require resources that I do not have available to me yet. That’s okay as long as I don’t fool myself into thinking that I have arrived and all is well.
In manufacturing, there is a philosophy called LEAN, and one of the LEAN tools is the PDCA cycle:
P – Plan – Come up with an idea using what you know.
D – Do – Put your plan into action.
C – Check – Check how the process worked. Be honest and look at the facts.
A – Adjust – You may need to change how you do things to get a better result.
Relentless Growth requires that type of philosophy to avoid letting rot take over your heart and mind. If you just go through life without thinking about how your action or non action is affecting you and those around you, I guarantee rot will grow. Plan with God what you need to do in your life. Do what you need to do. Check how you are doing, or be willing to listen to what someone else is seeing. Adjust your actions to bring yourself back in line with the Plan.
These steps will help in identifying those “soft spots” before rot can bring your life crashing down. Relentless Living requires us to be willing to address what lies beneath.