Point of Contact- Part 2: An Explanation
I think you're probably pretty darned smart and don’t really need much of an explanation from me. In fact, if you haven’t already commented on the previous post, I’d really like to hear your thoughts: Did this analogy make sense? Did it resonate with you at all? Did you run out to the store and buy shelf-paper inspired by a new motivation to organize your cabinets?
Here’s my take:
Old House-this is me. By some standards, I’m not old, and certainly hope I don’t compare to a dwelling built in 1840 and added onto in the 70’s. Let’s not even go there. As with any house that has become a home, it has a foundation built on love, and the walls hold memories of family and friends- the relationships that add character to the structure. But it’s not flawless. Things have settled over time, and the imperfections have become more apparent. There are scuffs on the floors and dings in the woodwork which have been patched and painted, but mostly have only added more personality to the old homeplace.
Cabinets-this is where I store my “stuff”. My memories. My hopes and dreams. My hurts and regrets. Some of this stuff is really neat to look at. Other stuff is best left unseen.
Old Contact Paper- every once in awhile, it’s nice to have a blank slate. It is a reconciliation of sorts, whether it be the act of going to “confession” as my Catholic tradition offers, or making amends directly with God or one another. From time to time, it just feels good and right to get things off your mind and start again with a clean heart. BUT, to do that only once in a blue moon (or once between 1977 and 2017), may not cut the mustard. If we leave that “stuff” alone for too long, it gets kind of stuck there, like year’s-old gum stuck to the underside of a desk. (Yes, as a former teacher, I got to experience that more times than I care to count- yuck! But I digress...) Once enough time passes, that once soft, sticky (sorry!), and pliable stuff becomes brittle, difficult and even painful to remove, and just plain ugly.
Getting to Work-I would guess that most of us are aware when it’s time. Time to address the problem stuff staring in our faces. Don’t get me wrong: most of us have LOTS of good stuff that is fun to look at. Often times, that old, yucky, gross stuff just can’t be removed easily. When we decide to give it a try, it can even be fun. At first. Then the novelty wears off. We see that this is maybe more than we bargained for. It’s hard. It’s painful. Maybe it would be ok just to cover this stuff up with...
New Contact Paper- I not proud of it, but I am definitely more the “sweep it under the rug” kind of girl than one to “take the rug outside and beat the dirt out of it.” (Stay with me here, we never actually beat our rugs, but I do remember reading about it in a children’s book somewhere…) The point is, I can certainly relate to the temptation to put new contact paper over the old grimy, stuck-like-glue stuff. It is noteworthy that sometimes when we try to cover something up, ignore it, or hide it with something newer and better, it just doesn’t stick! Just like the new contact paper, there are things in my life that I do instead of the hard work of reaching down to the deepest parts of who I am. But I soon find out, it isn’t me. It’s a cover. And it’s not always pretty.
Hair Dryer- this is the Holy Spirit. This is trial by fire. Take your pick. In my experience, sometimes I just can’t go it alone. I need help. And as for me, my help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2). Sometimes that help comes in the quiet of my heart as I spend time with Him in scripture, in mass, or in silent prayer. Sometimes it the is kind, but challenging word of a fellow believer, encouraging me to be brave. But sometimes, I need to let go of some of that stuff and just let God work on it for awhile. I can lay it at His feet, trust Him to do the work in me that needs to be done and move on. When I have truly given it over, wouldn’t you know that when I come back to it later, the gunk has started to soften. And when I once again take up the task of peeling back the layers, I am able to see the beauty beneath, just the way He created me to be.
Stubbornness vs. Determination - Sometimes it is good to be both. Knowing when to let go, when good enough is good enough and when something doesn’t have to be perfect-this is the key and I fully admit that I haven’t mastered it. BUT, in my defense, by the time I got to this point in my chosen task, the analogy was well-formed and I just couldn’t bear to leave any remnant of that nasty old stuff. Plus, I wanted my little brother to have a fresh start, including cabinets free of decades old shelf paper and a blessing from his big sister for a fresh start in his new (old) home.