A recent trip to the mall for decorations turned into a full-blown tutorial on furniture building. Needless to say, my husband was not happy to be drafted for the journey as we embarked on picking up some small decorative items needed for the house and anticipated a very brief stop. We happened onto a small shop with all kinds of neat items. The kind of things you just don’t see everywhere. When I inquired about a small wooden chest, the gentleman working in the store began to share why it was so expensive. When we finished speaking, I was sure there were some principles worth sharing as well.
The piece in question was a chest like wooden cabinet. The coolest thing about it to me was how worn it looked. I have had a thing for what’s called “distressed” wood for some time. When the clerk shared the price, I was taken aback. He then went on to explain the process of distressing wood and how laborious it is for the carpenter. I later found out that distress, as it relates to furniture is the technique of creating wear on an object that often enhances its appearance and value. The connection became clear to me.
Distressed pieces actually gain value by the many flaws, nicks and wear on it. The correlation to how we see ourselves is the stark opposite. We view our shortcomings, flaws or distressed appearance as something that devalues us. But it is these very flaws that make us so unique. We put ourselves down for not meeting some external superficial standard that no one will ever attain. Life can be so liberating when we accept ourselves for who we are. Because the truth is, you can fake it, but you can never be anything other than yourself.
Based on our lesson in the furniture store, there are several steps or stages one goes through to finish a distressed piece. Listed below are a few that I am sure will speak to your own process:
- The first thing is to choose the piece to work on: Simple but profound. We have to accept that life is much bigger than our human minds can comprehend. There is a divine Creator who has made the strategic decision to choose us to be his project. You were not voted in, elected in, or somehow smuggled in, instead there is a divine purpose and choosing upon us. So at some point in your life it becomes clear you are not pulling all of the strings. There are things at work far beyond your reach right now.
- There is a tedious period of sanding down: Let’s be honest, none of us likes this part of the process. The sanding, scraping and smoothing over the rough corners, hurts our ego and pride; but that’s the purpose. We often find ourselves surrounded by people who drive us “crazy” and in our minds the only reason they are still living is because we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives in prison. We cry out in frustration and wonder why we have to be subjected to them. What we fail to realize is these people are beneficial. They file us down and smooth out key areas so we can grow. Don’t fight them, embrace them.
- Next, the piece is chiseled and cracked: This is the time when the wood worker takes a blunt instrument and goes around the piece causing intentional dents. The key to remember is that every single crack was put there on purpose. In our lives, this is an awesome thing to remember. The next time you feel insecure about your past and the mishaps that left you cracked, remember the furniture. Every blemish serves as proof you are a one of a kind article. Our bruises make us a collector’s item.
- Lastly, the piece is stained and treated for protection: I saw this part of the process as our training and preparation. The one thing I have learned from being an athlete in high school and college, as well as a leader in corporate America, is that discipline is the deciding factor for success. Every one of us was born with an incredible reservoir of potential waiting to explode. The problem is many never come to the decision to discipline themselves in order to make the shift from good to great. It’s a big move and a lot of folks never quite make it. Those who do have been “treated” or stained by a season of training and discipline – the proof is in their success.
I walked out of the store without that piece of furniture, but the life lesson was worth the trip. I realized that life is about understanding the process to success just as much as it is about the success. We may not all be at the same level of being distressed, but we are a work in progress.
Never be ashamed of your scars. The scar means the hurt is over and the healing has taken place. It proves you’re a survivor who is here by design!
Never be ashamed of where you are in the journey. When others see your finished product, they will finally get a glimpse of your value, but it is up to you to learn to embrace the journey while memorializing each lesson. When the going gets tough, remember you are distressed by design and perfectly imperfect.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Top Image Courtesy of Donna Pochaski-Thomas – Creativecommons Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Helzer – Creativecommons Flickr License