Putting Twelve-Foot Boards into a Minivan

We’ve been remodeling our home for the past six months. I can’t tell you the jubilation I’m feeling at knowing that there might come a day that won’t require a trip to the hardware store.  But unfortunately this isn’t about that. This is about how much of an idiot I can be.

I was heading to the hardware store with one mission: to pick up a contractor pack of twelve-foot floor molding. It really did seem simple enough. I knew exactly where it was and had no problem making the purchase. I was even slightly smug about my ability to use the store’s Android app to make the process move even faster. As I wheeled my loot out to the minivan, I started to wonder if I was going to have a problem. Twelve feet is a lot bigger in person than it is in my head; those boards were long. I opened the hatch to the van, the passenger door, and the sliding side door. I carefully slid the contractor pack all way from back to front, resting the end of the board on the dash of the passenger’s side of the van. At that moment I knew it was going to be close, but I had one thing going for me: the boards were really flimsy. What I mean is that there was a ton of give; I could bend them to make them fit.

So there I sat in the middle of the parking lot of the hardware store. The sun had set, and I was running from the front of the van to the back, carefully attempting to get the boards to fit while shutting the hatch each time and hoping to hear that elusive click which meant everything was safely secure.  As I ran back and forth, I broke into a flop sweat and got more and more nervous. It appeared as if there was no hope that this was going to work out. So, in the midst of the summer heat, my frustration, and being ever so close to my objective, I did what most men would do: I forced the hatch shut. 

My rejoicing lasted only a nanosecond before I heard the worst sound in the world: a cracking window. In my attempt to make the boards fit, I broke the windshield. I reopened the hatch to relieve the pressure and shook my fists in despair.

This whole event is a pretty good analogy for  what I try to do in my life: I like to forget how much I need space. In those moments when I forget my priorities and try to shove one more thing into the day, I only end up doing the same thing the windshield did – crack under the pressure. For those of us in relationships, managing our space is one of the most important things we can do. Knowing when enough is enough creates safety and growth. It is a gift we give to others by saying exactly what our priorities are rather than just trying to force things shut.

I ended up getting the boards to fit by taking them out of the contractor pack and laying them in the van one by one. When they lost the height of being stacked together, they fit.  It’s amazing what can happen when I slow down and look at the whole picture.

P.S. – I still have to deal with the crack. Even though I got the boards home there are repercussions for the damage I’ve done. That principle is as true in life as it is in moving boards. Damage always has to be repaired or it will only get worse.

Self-Challenge

  • Where do you need to create more space?
  • How does trying to squeeze one more thing into your life impact relationships?