Fighting with a caulk gun had me thinking about how I respond to areas of struggle or shortcomings.
Each time I stepped into the shower reminded me that I was putting off essential home maintenance. The caulk around the shower was old and needed to be replaced. There were a few places I could peel it away with my fingers. This project was past due.
A caulk gun terrifies me. It is one of the things I have failed to master. Drawing a clean, smooth, even caulk line is just beyond my skill set.
When I build the courage to break my caulk gun out, I always grab a roll of paper towels to go along with it.
At one point, I thought my issue had to be that I did not have the right tools. I have purchased multiple caulk guns ranging from simple to complex. Do you want to help me part ways with some of my money? Show me some new gadget designed to help draw a smooth bead of caulk. My shop boasts multiple tools guaranteed to leave your caulk lines neat and even. Unfortunately, I cannot make any of them work.
THE CRAZY THING
What really gets me is that I am pretty handy around the house. I have completed basic electrical and plumbing projects. For example, in one of our homes, I took two bathrooms back to the studs and returned them to fully functioning, complete with custom-built cabinets.
Working nights and weekends, I completed framing an addition to one of our homes. I have installed more than one roof in my time. When our kitchen needed to be remodeled, I bought rough-cut lumber and custom-made all the cabinet doors and pullout drawers.
On more than one occasion, I harvested the wood from a tree in our front yard and turned it into furniture that fills our home.
It is not like I have never touched a tool before. Yet, put a caulk gun in my hand, and I am all thumbs; it is a miracle that the project reaches completion.
HOW BAD CAN IT BE?
A few years ago, I was confronted by a plumbing problem beyond my ability. So I invited a handyman friend to look over the issue and give me some advice. Stepping into my shower, Kenny’s first comment was, “Wow, who in the world caulked this!”
He was not praising a job well done. Once I confessed that it was my handiwork, I had difficulty returning Kenny’s focus to the issue at hand. He kept looking around, shaking his head and laughing.
Finally, the day arrived. The project could wait no longer. I got my roll of paper towels and gadgets that promised neat, clean lines, caulk, and a caulk gun. I loaded the caulk gun and confidently began to draw the first line.
My project was off the rails within seconds.
Six vertical lines and one bottom bead around the bottom of the shower took me most of the morning.
My only source of comfort was the thought that nobody other than Nancy is likely ever to see my handiwork.
WHY DO I LET IT GET ME DOWN?
Between drawing beads of caulk, smoothing them out, and cleaning up the resulting mess with my paper towels, I found myself hyper-focused on my shortcomings. My mind replayed all the caulk disasters of my past. There have been many.
A few hours into the project, I questioned why I am often captivated by areas of struggle or shortcomings.
I can give you a laundry list of how I could be a better husband, father, friend, pastor, and Christ-follower.
My weaknesses are painfully obvious. When I focus on my shortcomings, my spirit is anything but joyful. The more I focus on areas of struggle, the more likely they are to take over my life.
WHERE TO FOCUS?
The final two beads of caulk came out the best of all. The shower is waterproof. This project is complete for a few more years.
Now I can focus on those projects I enjoy doing. Projects that make use of skills I actually possess.
As I put away the paper towels and the myriad of caulking tools, I started thinking about what it would look like to move through life focused primarily on areas of giftedness.
I once heard someone say that many people move through life focused on improving areas of weakness rather than leveraging their gifts and skills. The sad reality is that none of us will excel in every area. We can focus on improving areas of shortcomings or choose to live out of our giftedness.
It would not take much for me to set up a form so that I could go into the shop and spend hours practicing my caulk skills. Eventually, I might reach some level of mastery. But, is that the best use of my time? I would much rather forget the caulk gun even exists and focus on areas of giftedness.
I sense that we would experience more gratitude and joy if we focused on sharing our giftedness with this hurting world.
Are there areas of struggle in your life that capture your attention and energy?
What gifts and abilities do you possess that make you unique?
How can you invest more time sharing your gifts with those around you?