Sometimes, tasks seem impossible because they are overwhelmingly huge. The effort to do the thing is not possible for one person–or maybe even several. Those sorts of challenges feel insurmountable. But when it comes to simple tasks, those can feel impossible just because of the weight they carry in my heart.
My house is over 100 years old which means that it leans. I couldn’t tell you which direction because overall the house leans west, but some rooms seem to shift a bit to the north and my kitchen has a south-ish sort of slant to it. This is what happens when a house settles. And while that brings charm and the lack of pressure to have everything straight on a wall that might be crooked, it also means that furniture can only be arranged in so many patterns.
For example, my bed can only sit against one wall where my feet are a bit lower than my head because if I put it elsewhere, I’d be leaning a tad to the left or right and something tells me my chiropractor wouldn’t love that. I have, not surprisingly, entirely too many bookshelves in my home which makes moving things . . . heavy. But when I got a new-to-me chair that snugly fits in a corner of the house, I knew I needed to move most other pieces in that room to make space. For weeks, I avoided this task. I just let half of my bedroom sit like the cluttered attic in Jumanji. There was no other place to really put this oversized chair and the bookshelves without them leaning forward and all the books falling to the ground. Not ideal.
So I did what any grown woman would: I just froze and put it off, waiting for my house to magically level so I could put bookshelves anywhere I wanted without this concern. I was stuck in my own overwhelm, frustrated that my room felt out of sorts, but unable to gather the gumption to do the dang thing.
And then, my friend Shauna came over today for lunch and before she left, I asked her to help me figure out the puzzle of bedroom furniture because it’s all a riddle and nothing felt quite right. Shauna is kind and honest and she hmm’d and haww’d with me before making the suggestion of moving a bookshelf to a place it had never been. This was a ridiculous idea because of the whole books-falling-forward-to-the-ground problem. But then, I remembered that I had some little shingles of wood for leveling things out.
Together, we worked to move and level the shelf. I held it in place and Shauna helped adjust the thin pieces of wood beneath the shelf’s frame and suddenly, it worked. No falling books, no swaying or leaning. Just a level bookshelf that actually holds books because my friend saw a way to make it work. Amazing how an extra set of hands really does make work lighter.
Caught in my own perspective and overwhelm, I never would have chosen this arrangement. But with the help of a friend? I was able to adjust and move things to a better place and it helped turn my house into a home.
As a single gal, I often lack the perspective of another person in the day-to-day and it can feel lonely at times. But when Shauna was willing to enter the mess and help see a way to order the chaos, it was a sweet reminder of Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” I’m sure she didn’t overthink this collaboration, she was just present in a moment that represented more than I let on. She was just…a friend willing to help.
Maybe you know someone who is struggling because they live alone. Perhaps they need someone to say, “Hey, how can I help you out this week? What can I offer in the way of little tasks that feel overwhelming?” Or maybe it’s a friend who has been stressed at work. What if you reached out and brought them a meal or said, “I’m at the store — need anything?” Small input goes a long way.
Two provides perspective. Two makes the task that felt a little impossible work. Two allows for leveling things out.
So as I sit in my comfy chair, I look at that bookshelf, nice and level (and a tad uphill from me) and I can see that if it weren’t for friendship, I would still be stuck. My room wouldn’t be as welcoming and I might still be feeling the weight of having to go it alone. But I know now that when I ask for help or offer it, I’m partaking in important community work. Doing things together is exactly how God wired us to live.
So thanks be to God for extra hands, old houses, and someone to help carry the load.