Saturday, January 29, 2011


Growing up and even into adulthood, the joke in my family was always about what a wimp I was (or am). This primarily came from my mom, who grew up with a dad who would make them hike for miles or insist that she not show fear in the face of big hairy spiders. I was often ribbed for being too sensitive, whiny about things like cold and bug bites and walking for long periods of time. Dan has often teased me too, particularly when it comes to either putting things together (which I am hopeless at and often give up on quickly) or moving furniture (I'm weak and always find a way to drop it on myself or nearly break something).

In the past I've kind of taken it all in stride, but more recently I've felt kind of frustrated with myself. A part of me knows that behind all of the good-natured teasing, there is a kernel of truth that I want to learn to stick with things, keep at a challenge, not give up when under pressure, push myself a little more. I'm doing some scripture memorization along with others over on Beth Moore's blog and a few weeks ago felt compelled to memorize Hebrews 10:35-36: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."

Fast-forward to the other day, a culmination of frustration with what has been so far an extremely difficult winter for our region. With the latest storm we surpassed something like 50 inches for the month of January, a new record. The snow and ice are so deep in the yard I can't even take the kids to play in it and I'm having trouble seeing beyond snow drifts to get out of our driveway. We've continually raked the snow off our roof, but still ice dams have formed and the water has leaked in three separate places around the house. The last time the leakage got so bad we paid a guy way too much money to break up a bunch of ice high up on our roof: only to have the leaking start again in our upstairs bathroom, worse than ever.

This is where I found myself Thursday morning, with Dan off in Boston on business for the day and the towels shoved up against the window pane where the water was dripping down getting increasingly wet. I MUST do something about this, I thought, and went to get the roof rake.

The roof rake did nothing. It was scraping against a large chunk of ice that I knew was the root of the problem. I thought about the rickety wooden ladder in the garage. I thought about Dan saying how dangerous it was and how I could barely carry it with him holding the other end. Go get it, I ordered myself.

It took probably 15 minutes for me to get the ladder off the wall and drag it to the garage door, then shovel the garage door out more so I could open it wider and get the ladder into the backyard. I eyed the house uneasily. I eyed the ladder. I then gathered up all of my strength and attempted to pick the ladder up completely to prop it against the house.

Crash! The weight of it tipped quickly, scraping the siding a little. The ladder was technically up, but crooked and also not at a steep enough angle to get me anywhere near the roof. I stepped and attempted to straighten things out and found myself falling waist-deep into a snow drift. My cheap Target boots (never again!!) were already leaking.

Persevere, persevere, I kept telling myself. Prove once and for all that you are not a wimp! I was a woman with a mission, while still heeding the voice in the back of my mind that said to not get too foolish, that I didn't want have someone find me frozen in the snow after falling off the ladder and passing out.

I got under the rungs of the ladder and gathered up all of my strength (which isn't saying much). Tears of frustration filled my eyes as again and again I found it hard to manuever. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I kept telling myself, although I'm pretty sure this wasn't the type of thing Paul was referring to in his letter to the Philippians.

Finally I got the ladder up the way I wanted to. I grabbed a hammer and climbed up before I could think about what I was doing. I grabbed the ledge of the window and could just barely reach the edge of the roof, where I began hacking at the ice. Splinters of ice and snow began raining down on me. I kept hacking. The work was exhausting. I didn't dare look down. I did get down once and went to check the bathroom. Still leaking. Back I went up the ladder and hacked more. My hair became soaked. I could barely feel my toes. Finally, I couldn't do it anymore. Resigned, I climbed down the ladder and tossed the hammer carelessly aside. I went back in and climbed the stairs once again to the bathroom.

If my life were a movie or at least some kind of TV drama at that moment I might have realized that yes! I did it! The problem was solved! The ceiling would have stopped dripping; my perserverance would have paid off. Lesson learned.

Instead: Drip. Drip. The ugly brown water stains on the celing were spreading. I called three handymen for help and no one picked up the phone.

After I had cried a few more tears of frustration something dawned on me. I was missing the point of perseverance. Perseverance is not about results. You learn perseverance by not giving up in the absence of any immediate results.

Our most significant times of emotional and spiritual growth are often in those seasons when nothing seems to be happening; changing; improving. Yet still we persist. Perhaps we change strategy or direction, but we don't lose hope.

Oh, by the way, the ceiling suddenly stopped leaking last night. I have no idea why or whether or not it'll start up again. But if it does, I'm ready for it. Stay out of the way of this not-so-whimpy woman, and her hammer. :)

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