PATCHING HOLES

A couple of days ago my wife felt water dripping on her head as we sat on the couch. This is never a good way to begin a relaxing evening. I went upstairs to see if I could figure out where it was coming from. Turns out one of our girls had taken a cup we use to rinse their hair with, and jammed it over the tub spigot as the water came out. There was no waterproof caulking around the spigot. All that water that got blasted backwards from the cup covering it had to go somewhere. 

I opened a hole in the drywall prior to all this to make sure we didn’t have a broken a pipe. Once we confirmed it was due to our girls splash park experience in the tub I proceeded to patch up the hole…several days later. I don’t know about you but drywall is probably on the 3rd or 4th level of Hell that damned souls will have to do for eternity. That is at least how I feel about drywalling. As I finished patching the hole in our living room I was reminded of another hole that needed patching. 

This is a bit embarrassing. 

Four years ago we had a new air conditioning unit installed for the second floor. One of the AC guys hit a plate in the attic which caused his drill to shoot through the drywall exactly where the wall and ceiling met in our upstairs hallway. They were very apologetic, but I had another item to add on my to-do list. I ignored patching the hole. I would walk by and think “meh” I’ll get to it. Here I am four years latter finally patching that hole. All it took was 4 minutes of work. 

I have walked by that hole every single day—multiple times a day for four years. I have ignored the hole. Disregarded the hole. Completely forgotten about the hole. This of course made me get all existential and think about all the holes in my life that I ignore, disregard and eventually complete forget about.  

My time working in ministry to youth and families has given me a unique perspective in the lives of these families. Often times providing a view into the joy, beauty and mess of their lives. Inevitably there are always holes that have popped up that need patching. Family counseling sessions, one-on-ones with kids, and talking to moms and dad reveal often that the holes we leave for another day often surface down the road in ways that cause problems and often times our children are the ones that suffer from it. 

So yes holes in this context are anything that can damage you, your relationship with your spouse and your children. Things such as:

  • A failure to grow up manifested in childish behavior, selfish habits and attitudes. 
  • A bad habit and/or addiction to pornography, alcohol use, drug use, or other not so harmful things that we have allowed to dominate our lives (i.e. excessive spending, too much time spent on extra curricular activities, social media, etc.)
  • An inability to regulate your emotions (typically expressed in fits of anger by men).
  • The list goes on. 

There are millions of reasons why we ignore, disregard and eventually forget about these holes in our lives. Sometimes the overwhelmingness of a situation is just too much. Timing can also be off. You are dealing with the death of your sibling and controlling your emotions is just too difficult, so when your kids spills juice on the floor you explode. Maybe you have never realized that you have a problem, and you don’t know who to talk to or where to go. 

So we ignore, disregard and eventually forget. Or at least we try. 

The funny thing is, whenever I actually noticed the hole on the ceiling I thought, “I am too busy to do this now. Too tired. Too…” But the problem took about 4 minutes of actual work to fix. The issue wasn’t the actual work of patching the hole. The issue lay at pausing and accepting the fact that I needed to stop ignoring it. For many of us here lies the difficulty. We think that if we stop, and focus on the hole it will take too much energy, it will bring up other underlying issues, etc. Maybe that’s true. But holes need to be fixed. 

Maybe you see other peoples holes and think, “mines not as bad.” Do not fool yourself. I don’t know what life has thrown your way. What I can tell you is that a man with holes in his life may learn to navigate around them, but his spouse and children may not be so lucky. 

I hate drywalling—always have. However, I like walking by my hallway and seeing a smooth wall and ceiling. It’s always worth doing no matter how difficult the work may be.

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