Joist Hanger

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).


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