One of the details that add character to the exterior of my home is the white fence that frames my yard. Especially this time of year, it is a beautiful, crisp contrast to the bright green of my Spring landscaping.
Each May when the pollen has subsided, I have the fence power washed and every couple of years it also gets a fresh coat of paint.
A couple of weeks ago as I was cleaning up the yard in preparation of hosting a party, I realized the traditional Spring cleaning was simply not going to be enough. There were places in the fence that needed more substantial work due to water damage/wood rot.
I called a carpenter and a painter, but their schedules were booked for weeks. With a party on the books, I had a choice to make...patiently wait for expert hands to do the hard work of removing portions of the fence, rebuilding new quality posts and putting it all back together OR fill the holes temporarily with putty and paint over it for appearances sake.
The necessary work required to truly address the issues was time consuming and, frankly, more costly than the quick fix. The putty/paint option would have allowed things to look more beautiful and make a positive impression, but I knew it would merely mask a problem that was simply going to reappear.
And so, while tempted to take the short cut for the sake of appearances, I chose to leave my rot exposed a bit longer in exchange for a truly restorative solution.
My little fence quandary spoke powerfully to me about similar, but more important, choices when it comes to life.
I'm in a season of making choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise, forgiveness or grudges, wisdom or folly. And this is to say nothing of the young hearts God has entrusted me to shepherd! Will I make quick decisions that keep everything right on the surface, while merely avoiding the rot lurking underneath? Or will I take the more challenging road, patiently waiting for the often messier more complicated solution--that is certain to be more lasting and true?
It sounds so simple when I type it, but in reality it is hard.
I am a doer. I don't like loose ends. I want to write it down, mark it off and move on...
But as my metabolism slows I have to be more conscientious with food and exercise.
As I get older I realize adult relationships are far more complicated than I once thought.
When my children misbehave I can react and nip the behavior immediately or pause and search for what's really lurking in the heart.
Life seems to be less about Do's and Don'ts and more about Good or Better, Temporary or Eternal. As I seek wisdom and desire to pass it on to my children, I am finding myself in the phase of Insteads.
Sure, you CAN do that, but what if you consider this instead:
It can be as simple as carrots instead of Cheez-its or water instead of Diet Coke.
As juvenile as holding my tongue instead of lashing out...
Or as complex and challenging as patience instead of making my own way.
God's grace instead of swift judgment.
Forgiveness instead of righteous anger.
I am learning that this truth can be resisted or embraced. I am tired of fighting it and ready to lean in--not only when it comes to matters of my own heart, but also those of training up my children.
An honest assessment reveals discipline issues I am emphasizing that have far more to do with keeping people from seeing our family's rot than they do with long term growth in our hearts and lives. In my desire to appear like a good Mom, I pray I'll not fall into the trap of putty and paint rather than addressing the real issues of rot.
Our God has always been in the business of redemption and restoration not whitewashing and covering up. It takes longer. It obliterates pride. But if it's the right choice for my fence, it most certainly is for these little hearts!