Painting and Panting

I try to maintain a regular rhythm in my life, when it comes to writing my reflections on life and ministry. Lately, however, I haven’t had much space or energy for it.

Through this quiet period, I’m not sure that I had (or really ever have) anything profound to say. But these past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of listening to music and podcasts. And I’ve been doing a lot of sweating. And I’ve been painting the exterior trim on our house.

It’s crazy the level of labor involved with something a project like this. It feels like it should be small: just little strips of wood around the windows and doors. But our house has a lot more windows and doors than I remembered! And for each strip of wood, there are multiple steps to follow:

  1. Scrape off the old paint that’s cracking and peeling.
  2. Use a wire brush to clean off the remnants of old paint that didn’t come off in scraping.
  3. Sand the area (either by hand or with a power tool) to create a smooth surface for applying a new layer of paint.
  4. Wipe off the area after it’s been sanded and mask off any especially tricky areas where you don’t want new paint to get on other surfaces (like our blue siding).
  5. Paint any exposed wood with a coat of primer.
  6. Carefully apply a new layer of paint.
  7. Carefully apply a second layer of paint.

We’re getting it done. A few areas — including most of the high stuff that required an extension ladder to reach — are completely finished. And we’re onto steps 5-7 for most of the other areas. But it’s been a challenge. The high stuff has been especially challenging, both logistically and emotionally. It’s not often that I actually tremble with fear, but it’s happened a few times with painting some of our third-level windows. And since trembling is not generally desirable for painting smooth, straight lines, I’ve had to regularly pause, take deep breaths, calm myself, and continue in a mindful way.

I’m not going to be sad when the project is finished. I’m especially ready to be done as nature’s thermostat keeps getting turned up and up. Still, there’s something good about physical labor, a process of renewal, and practicing patience along the way. I’m glad that the house gets a bit of a fresh look and that we can maintain the wood through deliberately caring for it. But I’m even more glad for my character development — especially when I get to sit in our air-conditioned office and type about it.

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