There is nothing worse than being defeated by an inanimate object. Now, I am not talking about things like cars or computers. They have evil souls and were sent by Satan to thwart us any time we feel life is looking up. No, I am talking about simple and straightforward inanimate objects. They have a singular purpose and appear simple to use. Until…
I am building a pergola (look it up). It took some time to get it going, but I reached a point where I was really making progress. It was late at night, everyone in bed, and I am getting it done. The frame was up, and I was using joist hangers to hold 2×6 boards to form the roof. I had done several very easily. Then, I tried to put up another joist hanger. I marked the spots just like the earlier ones. But when I nailed it in, it was far from level. How did this happen? So I tried to pull it out. Wouldn’t budge. Couldn’t get under the nail heads to pry. So I put hammer under the hanger itself. I tugged, it began to bend, but not quite enough. I tugged harder, the hammer slipped and bonked me in the side of the head. (Reminder, this is boards for the roof so I am standing on a ladder). I sway but hold on. Now I am hacked. I angrily pry the joist hanger off, but I mangle it in the process. I have others, but this guarantees I will come up one short! I get another and make sure it is level before I mark the nail holes. But as I attempt to nail it in, the nails keep slipping into the old nail holes. I can’t make them stop. I try nailing at a strange angle to avoid the old nail holes and it works. Except the awkward angle has pushed the joist hanger together in such a way that it is too tight for a board to fit. So I try to push the board down into the hanger. I can’t get any leverage because I am up on a ladder. So I grab hold of the board with both hands and jump off the ladder to pull down with my full weight. Nothing happens so I begin bouncing my body up and down to try to make the board slip into place. Suddenly, it does. It slams down right where I want it, but it happens so suddenly that I plummet to the ground. As I nurse my wounds I look up at the cause of all my troubles. A simple, inanimate object. I was humbled by a joist hanger. I may have won the fight but I took most of the blows. My pride took a beating.
Contrast that with most of my days. How often I think I know the answer. I know what is best for people. I know how people should vote, what causes they should care about. I am full of hubris. I spew pride. I use sarcasm to show the lunacy of those who can’t see things as clearly as I can.
Yet, I can be baffled by a joist hanger. Defeated by a car alternator. Bamboozled by a fish tank. If I can’t figure out a simple object, how dare I believe I know what is best for other people.
Perhaps that humility I felt as I lay on the ground should be carried over to the rest of my life. How would my life be different with more “I don’t knows” sprinkled over it? Would I truly lose anything by being less absolute in political matters? What does it hurt so say “you may be right”?
We live in a time where brashness, loudness and defiance seem to hold center stage. Humility is rarely seen in public. Nothing is viewed as more damaging than appearing unsure.
Well, if I am honest, I don’t know all the answers. I think my ideas are right, but they have been proven wrong time and again. I have lots of questions about God and government that I have no clue how to answer. Daily, I parent six wonderful children, and I am unsure about many of the decisions I make.
Seems to me our world could use a fresh dose of humility. We could all stomach a little humble pie. But very quickly, pride will begin making its return. As you feel it creeping up just remember the joist hanger. And that pride goes before a fall (literally).