Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Too Close

It seems that in much of life, it doesn’t pay to be too close. We don’t like a close call; when we narrowly escape disaster we call it “too close for comfort”; when we get too close to a situation and lose perspective we say we can’t see the forest for the trees. This whole line of thinking was set in motion the other day when I was working on a big project restoring a stairway in my house. The stairway is wood, with lovely wide steps and good moldings at the top of each riser. I removed the old carpet and even older linoleum tile, then dissolved and scraped and sanded to get rid of old glue. I washed and then sanded some more, and installed lengths of shoe at the bottom of each riser where it meets the tread. Finally, I began to stain; and after two coats of stain I was ready for the clear-coat. Last but not least, I had to repaint the stringers and moldings on both sides as stawell as the handrail.

At a point in the process of applying the clear-coat, I became depressed about the project. There I was, nose to board with each step that I had carefully sanded and stained, and all I could see was imperfections! Flaws! Tiny mistakes!

And I realized that I could either let the realization of these flaws and imperfections ruin the project for me, or I could take a step back and enjoy the beauty of the big picture. If I looked at it as a whole, I had created something very beautiful — dark walnut stain gleaming under a carefully applied triple coat of satin-finish clear-coat, ascending (or descending, depending on your viewpoint) majestically and beautifully in the middle of my home. For the rest of my days, God willing, I’m going to be walking up and down those lovely steps — not kneeling on each one peering at it to find flaws.

The feeling of relief and release that came over me was a lot like the feeling I get after the Sacrament of Reconciliation — a kind of intense lightening of the spirit that opens me to joy.

I thought, then, about my recent blog post pondering what God thinks of me. The thought of God peering closely at me with an intent of finding every last single flaw and imperfection in me was a little daunting. But it needn’t be. He comes close to us, especially in the human nature of Jesus, not to inspect and judge but to enjoy the fruit of His creation. He sees us as the whole of His work, I think, and rejoices within His Trinity in the beauty of it.

And for myself, for my spiritual life, I think that it is important to get some distance from myself, instead of getting so close to my “work.” Of course it is important to remain aware of my sinfulness and to know my faults and imperfections; but I don’t think God wants me to dwell on that. Rather, He wants me to bring those to Him, along with my whole self, and then to step back from myself and focus my energy on using myself to serve and help His people, the people He puts in my path. He calls me not to be so self-centered that all I can see are my flaws; He calls me to be so centered in Him that all I can see is His love.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: