My first interaction with installing drywall was when I was just seven years old. Dad let me “help” put up Sheetrock™ in our garage which became temporary living quarters when we were building a new house on our farm in Todd County, Kentucky in 1961.
My help consisted of adding nails to panels that were already installed in the second floor. Looking back, I am suspicious that those panels were already fully installed. At the time, though, I was convinced that my efforts were absolutely essential to keeping those four-by-eight sheets from dropping off the ceiling.
I don’t have a really clear memory about those others whose efforts contributed to the drywall installation. It seems that there were one or two other adult men involved in helping Dad. Maybe carpenters, maybe kinfolk, maybe neighbors. I’m reasonably sure that since my oldest brother, Richard, was seventeen at the time, he would have been in on it. At eleven, Paul would likely have been involved, if he could be pried loose from the tractor seat. Maybe not in solo carrying of the heavy panels though he could have done that pretty readily by the time he was thirteen or fourteen.
But back to my efforts… Other than the potential surface damage a seven-year-old might inflict with a hammer, it was actually a pretty good learning opportunity. The nails were comparatively short and sturdy, much less prone to bending than box nails or standard eight-penny nails. I don’t remember making a mess of anything so I’m relatively certain that I must have done okay. Dad’s patience with mess-ups, especially ones that caused more work, was pretty limited. Absent any memory of stern corrections or being abruptly dismissed from the project, I’m confident that my efforts were at least not disastrous.
Even the limited previous experience I’d had pounding nails into scrap lumber in the garage and in the back yard made a lot of difference in that very first drywall project. Interestingly enough, I’ve found that practice helps me improve in the spiritual realm as well.
We may find that our first efforts at turning the other cheek, forgiving, and doing good to those who have wronged us feel right clumsy. Maybe a bit forced and more than slightly insincere. But, with faithful practice and an earnest prayer life, we’ll find that the more we do it, the easier it gets. Eventually it will feel as natural as swinging a hammer does to an experienced carpenter.
Which is also pretty cool since it was The Carpenter who first taught us how to turn the other cheek and love those who hate you.