I’ve spent the last couple of weekends building a new play set in the backyard for the kids. My husband and I spent the entire first day just unloading the two boxes full of lumber and hardware. Our entire yard was full of stamped lumber, sorted by part number. There were bags and bags of screws, nuts, bolts, and a handy booklet of instructions that turned out not to be so handy after all. It was at this time that I casually asked my husband why it was that we didn’t hire someone else to build it for us. I could see where this was headed, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. O.v.e.r.w.h.e.l.m.i.n.g. Not going to be a fun process.
My husband kept saying, “This is a once in a lifetime purchase”, which I think was meant to be some kind of encouragement. I know he meant this is the only time in your life that you will have to do something like this, but after a solid week of hard labor it started to sound cruel and oppressive. Nose to the grindstone girl, build me some more bricks. Wait, am I in Egypt? Are you Pharaoh?
O Lord, hear my cry for deliverance.
I hit the “What are we even building because I can’t remember anymore” phase. I think this was somewhere in the middle of the 22 phases (yes, really 22!) just to build the fort. That’s just the fort, are you kidding me? That number did not include the swing, monkey bars, and all the other contraptions, bells, and whistles. This is when I started to wonder if I was ever getting out of this place. You know that place when you are in too far to back out with no other option other than to see it through completion. I hate that place.
I wondered if we would ever get it together at all, and if we did, if we would even still be married and live in the same house. Now I know why people sell these things on the internet with attractive advertisements such as “like new” and “still in box”. This really means, “Please take this thing out of here before we kill each other”. Really, did we even need a swing set. The park is only 10 minutes away. Those kids better appreciate this and play on it every-single-day until they are in like high school.
Over the course of set up, we came to have a love-hate relationship with the instruction booklet. It contained the multitude of phases and the big-picture dream of what it promised to look like at the end of our tortured labor. We would read some parts again and again, and still not understand how it went together. The pictures did not help either. I can’t tell you how many parts we put together, and then had to undo to switch around. We put them on backwards, wrong side, inside out, upside down. My husband kept saying, “We probably have 10 hours of rework so far”. Note to husbands everywhere: this is not an encouragement. This rework, combined with the heat and the children running wild and unsupervised, was really grating on my nerves by this point and time.
I’ll spare you the rest of the ugly details. I’m sure you can imagine the kind of responses this type of situation generates. Not pretty and does not need to be repeated. Let’s just say I did get to sackcloth and ashes…eventually. We are still married. The children survived. And we did finally get the whole play set together. May I present to you the “Saratoga” model. Yes, the swing set has its own name, although I think Sasquatch would have been more appropriate for this monster:
And look, complete with smiling, happy children:
Awww. Doesn’t that just make it all worthwhile?
No, not yet anyway. I’m still recovering. But if I put this picture as my screen saver on my computer and stare at it frequently, it may help restore my sense of peace. Maybe I’ll even get to joy…eventually.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
I hope my example of building a swing set comes across to you as an encouragement in the places where you are laboring right now. I realize what a stretch it is to have perspective and count it joy in the middle of the seemingly never ending trial. I know I run the risk of coming across to you as cruel and oppressive, depending upon where you are in the process. But let me just say that God has a definite picture in mind of what you will look like in the end. Allow Him to lead you through, step-by-step, phase-by-painful-phase. Keep your eyes on Him – eternally heavenward. Know that in the end you will lack nothing. You are the smiling, happy child in Your Father’s house. Forever.
To my friends, Ron and Kathy, this is for you today. My prayers are with you, my friends, as you continue to fight the good fight of faith. It’s going to be worth it all.