A Work in Progress Toward Excellence
Linda’s home looked like you would expect during a DIY (do-it-yourself) kitchen remodel. The contents of her kitchen were strewn asunder. But the cabinet stain showed great promise. I OOOHED and I AWWWWED with sincere admiration.
However, Linda’s earnest sharing of her cabinet WIP (work-in-progress) did not extend to my husband. She wanted him to wait to see it until it was showroom-ready.
I get it. I love to share my unfinished work with some people, and I prefer to wait for completion with others. I’m sure you can relate. Some people see the beauty in a process where others just see chaos. Inviting the wrong person into your process can feel like a bucket of cold water.
I’m half way through my own WIP. Yesterday was the halfway mark of my year-long, personal Space for Grace, Lean2Life, Lean into Grace life-remodel. I wanted to write a blog post to tell all my readers all about it. But I couldn’t. My blog isn’t working. I’d been messing with it for a month and it still wasn’t working.
As my first semester came to a close, I was on my own case. I had made a trip into town without preparing enough first. I had bought some things I couldn’t use that I couldn’t return. I was overwhelmed by all the things I need (want) to do yet.
I was painfully aware of my flaws. I dive into projects without adequate preparation. I move on from activities without quite completing them. How time gets away from me. I recently ran after the postman (dressed questionably) because I got distracted by the desire to organize my passwords when I should have taken my package to the mailbox first. Sometimes I think it’s a wonder I get through life.
Yesterday, my world looked like my neighbor’s kitchen. Through today’s eyes of grace it also looks beautiful. Yesterday my best wasn’t good enough. Today, it is. Yesterday’s impatience and discouragement are a normal part of an improvement process. You expect that when you go on an excellence quest. In fact, the down days often come right before a creative breakthrough or an illuminating insight.
Like this insight. Last night I dreamt I went to get my nails done, and the technician wouldn’t do it. She explained that I needed my “summer hands” and it didn’t make sense to have my nails done now. The dream reminded me that it’s normal, natural and right for my hands/life/workflow to be rough in areas at this stage of my process. It’s not my season to show proud results. It IS my season to lean in to grace and see the beauty in the unfinished and incomplete.
Seeing the Invisible
All this is not to say that there’s nothing to show at all for my efforts. I’ve grown accustomed to having the things I use regularly sorted and placed just where I need them. So I don’t notice when I easily reach for something that I used to have to get up and search for. It seems normal now to have room in my schedule for surprises, like when my father wants to have a heart-to-heart. I forget how little time I once had for that kind of opportunity. I’ve come to expect that important things will get done ahead of their due time with a cushion for loose ends. Meeting administrative deadlines has become the norm for me. Running after the postman is a singular event now, not the standard in my space for grace world. I now easily navigate devices and software and tools that were daunting for me only months ago. If I had to prepare for a performance review, I could assemble an impressive list of achievements.
But just like my garden wasn’t showing its potential when it was half planted – and Linda’s kitchen looked worse overall before it looked great – the real treasures of my journey aren’t visible to most eyes yet. The fact that I have no outside pressure to account for my efforts is not just liberating, it’s essential to the success of my quest. I can keep my “summer hands” busy without the distraction of needing to stop for polish.
Linda took a risk when she invited me in to see her WIP. She risked my being a wet blanket at a formative stage of her project. She welcomed me, trusting me to remember it’s normal for a kitchen to be chaotic when you stain cabinets inside and out. She welcomed me, trusting me to OOOOH and AWWWW encouragingly. She counted on me to lean in to the grace of her process, and I did. We had a great time, and she got some creative ideas from me that she really liked.
I was honored to be invited in to her process. Her inclusion is part of my inspiration to invite you in to my lea in to grace personal remodeling process. Like Linda’s kitchen, I, my work and my life are a WIP. Just like yours. And it’s a beautiful thing.