I remember my first attempt at drywall finishing: Browns Grove, Kentucky, Summer of 1976. While my firstborn son, Michael, crawled around in the dust and debris, I put on a few heavy layers of sheetrock mud, covering the end joints in the middle of the new ceiling. I soon discovered that it is much easier to put mud on than it is to get it back off of the Sheetrock. After a few hours of overhead sanding, I abandoned the notion of smooth, undetectable joints and began making false wooden beams to cover the seams. It worked, although the rustic look wasn’t what I’d originally imagined for the living room of a Victorian home.
My second attempt was somewhat better as were my ninth and tenth efforts. About twenty years after that initial effort, I finally got to where I could do a decent job of finishing drywall. It’s still not easy for me, nor is it something that I do quickly. But with patience, multiple thin coats, a light touch on the finish coat and a reasonable amount of sanding, I’m able to hide most of the screw heads and taped joints.
The primary reason why I have cultivated this talent to this limited degree is that I’m a tightwad when it comes to hiring other people to do what I can do myself.
Even if it takes me longer and I don’t achieve quite the same quality of finish work, doing it myself has allowed us to do an awful lot of remodeling work that we could not have afforded otherwise. I’m still getting better at it; each job seems to go a bit easier and I get to the finish stage in a lot less time than it used to take.
When we view the cultivation of the fruits of the Spirit with the same sort of determined effort, we see similar increases in our ability. Of course, we have to recognize that in this particular effort, the greater work is being done in us rather than by us. As we deliberately practice patience, peace, hope, love, gentleness, self-control, mercy, forgiveness and kindness, we find that each act takes less effort than before and becomes more instinctive and automatic, rather than forced and deliberate.
Eventually, if we intentionally do these things, we become able to respond with grace, even when we are dealing with people who’ve been rude to us, mistreated us or wronged us in some grievous way.
And, when the nature of Jesus has become our own nature, others will have greater difficulty finding the seams between what we are and what we believe.