It is funny, when you have a terminal illness people feel free to ask you questions they’d never ask anyone else. Recently a “Facebook friend” (I really don’t know them closely) asked me about the crazy home remodeling projects I’ve been doing. They couldn’t believe I was spending the “time I had left” ripping up vinyl flooring and screening in my porch. It got me to thinking about why I keep doing these kind of projects. Like most things there are “reasons” for that I do them. I believe in being proactive, that is making plans and setting goals, and not simply reactive, waiting for things to happen to me. So, why do I keep doing stuff? I keep tackling these projects for a few reasons, first it is a tangible accomplishment, additionally it gives me something to focus on that is not cancer, and finally it brings me joy.
A lot of what I do as a coach, pastor, parent, leader, etc. doesn’t really produce tangible results. I believe it is all very important work, yet at the end of the day you have not really produced a product. When I tackle home projects, from building cabinets to screening in the porch, at the end of the project it is done. It is something I can point to, flaws and all, and see that not only is it done, but it stays done. I love working with people, helping them discover their calling, overcome life’s obstacles, and conquer a life transition. People, however, are never “done.” There is always another challenge, that is life. Sometimes you just like to look at something and say, “I did that!”
There are a lot of days when I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! Cancer demands a lot of attention. You have to be careful what you eat and when. You have to take your meds, get shots, go to the doctor. I explain to folks that having a chronic and/or terminal illness is like having another full time job. It also costs a lot of money both financially and in time you have to take off from work. It is kind of a bummer when you have to burn vacation days for doctor appointments or medical leave. When I am ripping out counter tops and scraping the floor I can, for a little while, focus on something that isn’t cancer. I can invest body and mind in solving the problems that arise and figuring out the best way to take on a task. It also allows me time, when doing mindless repetitive tasks that are often part of these processes, to have pretty frank talks with God about how much cancer sucks and trying to figure out what to do next.
Finally, I enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. Oh sure there is usually lots of room for improvement. There are plenty of flaws in the cabinets I built or the floors I have put down. Even with these humility spots I get a lot of joy from knowing that I put my sweat (and sometimes blood and some not so nice words) into the project. I also have anticipated joy. I anticipate all the meals I will cook for friends in our new and improved kitchen. I anticipate the joy of sitting on the back porch, mosquito free, and listening to the birds in the morning while I eat breakfast.
These are just a few of my reasons about why I keep taking on projects and “doing stuff.” How about you? So what is that you do that produces a tangible result? What part of your life allows you to take a break from your struggles and focus on something else? What activities bring you both current and anticipated future joy? Leave me a comment below and tell me your story! Don’t forget to: