When it comes time for a plant to push its way through the dirt, it just does it. There’s no thought. I’m not even sure it would be called an instinct. A plant just does what God designed it to do. God designed us a bit differently. He set us apart from all of His other creation and gave us free will. This means that, unlike the plant, we have a choice about whether or not we will push through the dirt. We can choose to grow or we can choose to stay tucked down below the surface. And sometimes we do stay. Why? Why would anyone choose to stay stuck?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently as I’ve been pushing my way through a good deal of actual dirt. I’ve mentioned before that we’re preparing to sell our house which means we are in the process of working through 15 years of clutter and overlooked dirt to restore our home to its original glory. As I’ve scratched each chore off the list, I’ve thought the thought that I think every homeowner thinks at this point in the process…Why didn’t we do this sooner? As I pondered the reasons why I avoided pushing through the actual dirt, I realized that many of them were the same reasons I avoid pushing through my metaphorical dirt.
I’m going to share some of those reasons here and after you’ve taken a very justified moment to totally judge my dismal housekeeping skills, think through whether any of them sound familiar. Where are you “stuck” and why are you staying there?
I don’t know how to…
There were a number of things around our house that we avoided doing simply because we weren’t sure how. Patching a popcorn ceiling? No idea. Fixing a hole in the bedroom door? Not a clue. But now that we wanted to sell our house, that wasn’t good enough anymore. We had to figure it out. So we turned to Google and it turns out that lots of other people do know how to do these things and they’ve helpfully posted their insights free of charge on the Internet. I assigned the ceiling to my husband and decided to tackle the door. I read the tutorial, bought a $4 can of spray foam insulation and patched the door. (So delighted was I by my newly acquired home repair prowess that I immediately texted like three people to suggest that I might now be qualified to host This Old House.)
Where are you feeling like you don’t know what to do? Is there any area of your life that could benefit from the experience of someone who has gone before you?
It’s not worth the effort.
I have three boys. I’m fairly certain that they excrete dirt through their pores for the sole purpose of rubbing it on the walls. When they were little, one of them literally licked a window mere seconds after I Windexed it. There was no point in cleaning up only for it to be dirty again moments later. Solid logic, right? Except that now new dirt is layering over old dirt and the shiny clean surface is buried even deeper and maybe even getting stained. It’s gotten embarrassing. I’ve avoided entertaining in my home for years. I hate it when someone stops by without calling. Every time my mom visits I go into full on panic mode. When it finally does have to get done, it’s a LOT of effort. My scrubby sponge and I get a real workout and I begin to really regret the years of avoiding the dirt.
What are you avoiding working on because you feel like the work will never be truly done? Where do you feel your God-designed self getting buried?
I don’t have the time.
Like all of you, I’m busy. Like some of you, I’ve opted to homeschool which means my children never leave. I have to somehow figure out how to do all of the things while half listening to detailed descriptions of the latest Minecraft build or yelling at whoever is in the next room stacking stuffed animals on the ceiling fan to make them fly. Who has time for anything but the essentials? Wipe down the counters, swish the toilet brush and then get distracted by the request for a snack and then “can you get these Lego pieces apart?” and “Mom, will you please play Go Fish with me?” Here’s the thing, though. Now that the end goal is in sight, I’ve suddenly found the time to paint every surface in my house, fix all the things, clean all the closets, etc. As it turns out, I had the time all along. What I was missing was the motivation.
Where do you feel like you don’t have enough time? Where can you rearrange obligations and priorities to make the time for the things that matter?
I didn’t know I could.
Okay, this one is embarrassing. You know the hood thing over your stove? Where the light and the fan are? When we got married ten years ago and I moved in, ours was pretty gross. I took one look at it and assumed there was no hope for getting that thing clean. I never even tried. For ten years I’ve just avoided looking up and prayed my Mom would go blind when she came to visit. (She never did…) As I cleaned and decluttered the kitchen for the move, I finally bothered to wonder if I might be able to make it look at least a little bit better. I grabbed my trusty scrubby sponge, the Dawn, and the 409 and went to work. Thirty minutes of effort later all the grease had been scrubbed away. It’s still a little stained, but it’s no longer gross or embarrassing. In half an hour, I accomplished something I’d spent ten years thinking was impossible.
What circumstances are frustrating you? What feels so impossible that you’ve given up before you even started?
No more excuses!
We’re at that point in the home selling process where there is no more time for excuses. We list this week. Everything needs to be done. Isn’t it that way with life too? We put things off until we absolutely have to deal with them. It can really be a lot of extra work to do it like that, and inevitably we wish we’d done more along the way.
Take some time this week to think about where you are choosing to stay stuck. Consider what you can do to push through the dirt. Do you need to do your work quietly, pushing your roots downward to create a firm anchor? Or is it time to push your way up through the dirt and show off some pretty green leaves for all to see? The tools below might be helpful to you in this process and as always, join us on Facebook to share your thoughts and experiences.