A Labor of Love volunteer posted this on Facebook the other day, and with some recent events in the culture and even within Labor of Love, it struck a chord. Let me explain.
The road to restoration is not an easy one. It doesn’t matter what one is attempting to restore – an old house, an overgrown yard, a divided country or family, or even refreshing a tired or angry soul. It takes grit and determination, a desire to change, to serve others, to persist in the face of difficulty, to attempt to understand a perspective that may differ from your own on both important and on trivial things.
Several months ago we remodeled portions of an old and beautiful home. The portions we remodeled were loved by the previous owner, who we also loved. Many good memories had been shared there. But those portions of the home did not best serve the potential of the whole house to serve as a home to a family, to welcome new guests comfortably, and to increase in value or impact. So with thought and a dream, we began. It involved some careful and subtle work, and it also involved several days with a literal jackhammer.
There were late nights, long days, and early mornings of effort, and there were obstacles that needed to be cleared and things that had served their purpose that needed to be set aside or removed. There were even some who felt like the house should have been left exactly as it was, or for whom the focus of the changes were uncomfortable. There was work that was best left to expert craftsmen who knew what they were doing. There was a lot of work appropriate for apprentices (our family) who had never done that type of work before, but who were willing to learn and take risks. Even work that some thought was dangerous (electrical, high ladder work) or would not look right if it were done imperfectly (drywall mud, painting, grouting a backsplash or laying tile). But we persisted. We made mistakes and began again when we felt discouraged.
It took longer than we thought, cost more money than we thought, and, in the end, turned out better than we thought. And though our friend who was the previous owner never saw the outcome in this life, we believe and have seen evidence of her smiling down on both the process that transformed us and her home, and that resulted in a place that is a welcoming and beautiful space.
Labor of Love is not unlike that house.
- There is a core foundation – a set of guiding principles, and a desire on the part of a few people to do something that would make an impact.
- There were plans and a design – a set of operating practices chosen to implement the principles by people willing to dream and to put their effort and resources into the work. Some of these operating practices are still purposeful, and others may have served their purpose in the beginning and can now be changed or set aside.
- There are both craftsmen and apprentices involved, and work well suited to both. Both are needed and welcome – and craftsmen who are willing to guide with love and kindness are particularly valued as are apprentices who are willing to learn and stretch themselves.
- There is a call to restore and to change, both ourselves and our communities – our country even, and that call also involves discomfort, patience, persistence, forgiveness, and kindness. But it can also involve beautiful moments, incredible vistas, a sense of accomplishment. The connections between people will happen when they develop and share empathy for their shared journey and a community of support for their individual struggles.
- There are many points of view and preferences….as many as there are people involved. We will not all come to agreement all the time, but we can choose to assume one another’s best intent for the common goal we share.
We are working on a house together. We are considering some changes that we believe are timely and necessary to move the mission forward. More diverse voices are needed in the planning process (stay tuned for an invitation to add your voice). More willing and faithful hands to do the work are needed. You are needed.
There are much easier ways to provide service than what we do together in Labor of Love. There are more comfortable paths to take that involve less need to get out of our comfort zones. There may even be some people who choose not to take this journey at all or for whom the process is simply too hard or incompatible with their life circumstances and personal preferences. But all are welcome to go on this journey, this road less traveled.
I know you are tired. The road ahead is long. But the destination and the beauty along the path will be worth it. Come with us.