Last summer I built a gate across our driveway. It wasn't fancy, and I've never really done that type of construction before, but I was pretty pleased with the end result. That gate lasted through the winter and now into the spring. A few days ago we had a bad windstorm, and you guessed it, it somehow [acts surprised!?] blew the gate right off it's hinges. So the next day I got out my hammer and drill and screwdriver and went to work. The holes were already there where the screws had been last time, so now the screws fit a little easier. A few of the boards had cracked and split from the break, but after a little elbow grease and a whole lot of love it hung just as crooked as it did the first time I built it.
This new gate was soon put to the test, by a minor wind that came through yesterday. Somehow again [really ?!] the wind managed to blow the gate off of its hinges. And so I got to thinking, and the more I thought I realized this gate is a lot like the problems we face in life. I made this connection while talking to my wife, all the while thinking about what I was going to do about that gate…
I used to have this idea, when I was a kid, that the progression of life would lead me through the turbulent years of junior high, into the much cooler and stable years of high school and college. In high school I would have a car, a job and a girlfriend that I was committed to. In college, my coolness level would go up, since I was now older and no longer a kid. After school, "when I am older" I thought life would be perfect. Marriage, a full time job doing what I love, a family, a nicer car than the old beat up cop car I used to drive in High School. But kids don't have a concept of the struggles that adults go through, after all, kids think when you are an adult you can do what you want, when you want, spend money how you want and eat ice cream for breakfast if you want (which I only did once or twice by the way). Truth is, that's just not life. Life has trials, and problems and broken gates. And there is no way to reduce those things down to zero. We just need to!
deal with them the best we can, which leads me to the second lesson I learned from my gate.
Sometimes, we don't even know what to do! I am at that point with the gate, I built it once, I fixed it once, and that about taps out all my knowledge about gates. In life, there are a lot of problems that cause us worry or concern that quite honestly, there is no easy answer to, and I feel like I haven't a clue where to begin. For example, what do you do when you have moved away from all your friends to a place where you don't really see a lot of people in your stage of life? How do you make new friends? Where do you meet them? Kind of at a loss on what the next step should be. Or another example, parenting. Definitely have the feeling, more than once a day, that I just don't know how to handle it, or deal with disobedience or whining, whatever the problem may be.
It's OK to not have the answer right away. But the third lesson my broken gate taught me is that it just takes time. That doesn't mean that if I wait long enough and do nothing, some strange elves will come to my house in the middle of the night and fix my gate. It means that I will have to be patient while I try to find out the answer. Broken gates teach us to endure life's difficulties, and not let them totally destroy our happiness. Yes, it will be difficult to let the dog out and make sure she doesn't take off down the street, or I may have to keep a closer eye on Ella when she plays outside, but I don't have to let the broken gate make me miserable. And I don't have to let the other problems in life get me down, I just need to be patient and endure as I stand under their weight. Then, one day, I'll look out my kitchen window and see a properly assembled, beautifully stained, and professionally built gate.