Have you ever painted a brand-spanking new ceiling - fresh from construction?
We just did.
And it took THREE coats. Which, when you are looking up and it's splattering on your eyeballs and your hair and your neck is contorted and you think Good Lord, why is this SO HARD??....you only want to do that once. Not thrice.
But, then, that last coat was WAY easier than the first. Much better results.
And I kept thinking: The first pass at anything is always the hardest.
Your first time riding a bike. First time driving. First college class.
Just a lot of work and.....not a lot of payoff.
Our ceiling was just absorbing everything as it was so textured and new and so....soaky. Soaked up so much and still looked like not much paint had gotten where it needed to be. So much effort.
It was frustrating.
What are you trying for the first time that is just soaking up all your efforts, brain space, emotion, time....and it still looks and feels messy? It's slow and maybe tiresome sometimes and the results are not what you imagined? A new job? Motherhood? A new skill? A new relationship?
There's some Ideal vs. Real going on here. What you had imagined to be the ideal outcome and then what is actually happening.
But then there's the second coat. It soaked up much more. Still a bit splotchy, but you covered much more ground in a much better way, learning from that first time. And the third pass- a cake walk.
We are trying some new things in our church and it's exciting and fun and hard and some things work and some don't look quite right. It's the first coat.
Going slow, embracing the process, knowing that the first run of anything (poor first-born) is not going to be easy, smooth or what you thought. But it clears up, gets easier, you adapt and you start to see through the mess. You make changes that are better and tell yourself there's no rush and you give yourself time and space and permission to fail. And you give that to everyone else.
And you make sure you have people around you that are telling those very same things to you. Extending grace, like a painters extension pole, as you try your best to cover that new ceiling and it's soaking everything up inside you and looks like a splotchy mess.
But you've got a roller in hand.
You're doing the work.
And you're looking up. You're breathing, slowing down, looking up.
So much of life is like painting a ceiling.