I’m a desk-worker by trade who is currently “trying” to lay a brick walkway at my home. Right now, I’m still at the shoveling stage: shovel out 18 inches of dirt, shovel in a sand and gravel mix. This morning, I had to remind myself that the walk won’t get done if I don’t move some more sand and gravel before the sun gets hot.
This will be the second brick walk I’ve put together at this house, and I may or may not require help from my brother this time. I still need to push myself to finish edging a garden bed with the same brick — hand-formed antique red brick that my parents “acquired” when they took down a chimney.
Part of being a New Englander is to do stuff. It’s kind of like when you’re trained as an engineer or machinist: you know that you can figure out how to do just about anything, so you figure whatever is in front of you is something you can (and should) do. How can a person try too hard or try too many things?
The questions for me are less about whether I’m “trying” too hard, but whether I’m attempting tasks that aren’t my own:
- Am I asking often enough for help?
- Am I honoring others by letting them know I need what only they can offer?
- Am I choosing to batter a wall instead of using a nearby window or door?
- Am I trying to “break in” to someone else’s lifestyle instead of quietly living my own?
I can “try” too hard in some arenas and not hard enough in others:
- Am I trying to learn life skills that I’ve missed to date (for example, how to build supportive friendships)?
- Am I trying to shape my character where I fall short: most notably (as everyone can attest) in humility?
- Am I trying to make my life fertile ground for God’s good work of growing spiritual fruit?
This last, to me, is where the “trying” and the “not trying” are most clearly linked. Getting fruit depends on effort and on things that are beyond effort. I can’t force the Concord grapevines in my backyard to bear fruit. But I can — and did — prune them properly (thanks to internet how-to graphics). I can — and do — irrigate them during dry, hot weeks.
This year, Lord willing, I’m going to have a huge harvest on grapevines I didn’t plant, never imagined looking after, and have only “tried” to care for properly.
I try to do what God puts in front of me. I avoid doing what God has put in front of someone else. God takes all the efforts we make together and sends the results.
Grapes, bricks, and better character. I’m trying. God’s doing. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Today’s Five Minute Friday blog link-up prompt is “Try”.