By Kelly Smith
When we moved into our house, an empty spot by the front door begged for a little table. I needed a place for my keys, incoming mail, and outgoing library books. I meandered through the furniture section of a local thrift store, searching for just the right piece. I found my little table at the end of an aisle. An old garden bench with peeling, tacky teal paint, it looked pitiful. I loaded it up and headed home for the great makeover.
I spread out a tarp on the garage floor and collected the supplies I needed: sandpaper, a soft rag, paintbrushes, and a can of shiny black paint. As I walked around the little table, I could see its potential in my mind. I was tempted to skip the sanding and get right to the painting. I wanted the results without the hard work of rubbing away the imperfections.
But thanks to my many hours watching DIY reality shows, I knew refinishing furniture starts with sanding. Sanding removes the old finish, giving the new paint something to grip. Without this crucial, painstaking process, the new paint might peel or chip. So I pushed up my sleeves and sanded away the peeling paint until a smooth surface remained. Fine grains of imperfection fell to the tarp as I methodically worked my way around the table. With all the rough patches removed, my table soaked in the new paint and found renewed life.
Sanding isn’t the fun part of refinishing furniture. Repetitious friction isn’t glamorous. Rubbing away the old to prepare for the new is tiresome and sometimes painful. However, lasting beauty requires this challenging work.
Disagreements are a sort of sandpaper for people. Differing opinions rub us the wrong way. They cause conflict in families, between neighbors, and within the church. Contention can lead to splits and silent treatments.
Disagreements can also be a gift. They can prepare us for a greater level of intimacy in our relationships. Listening to someone else’s perspective broadens our own point of view. It causes us to think deeply, consider the other side, and maybe even experience new emotions.
If we shut someone out at the first sign of friction, we miss the rubbing that refines our imperfections and prepares us for deeper intimacy. Considering differing opinions prompts us to search for truth, leading to a solid stance in our convictions or a heart change when new truths are uncovered.
Recently, my family walked through a refining, sandpapery experience. Someone we respect said some things that didn’t sit well with us. Instead of retreating from the conversation, though, we stepped back to consider the heart behind his words. Knowing his character, we determined his words came from a place of love and truth, even if they felt abrasive. We looked deeper at what we believe about the controversial topic. We spent a lot of time around our dinner table talking about truth and grace.
In the end, we approached the difference of opinion with grace. We viewed this experience as a gift. Through the disagreement, we searched Scripture for truth, renewed our beliefs, and drew closer together as a family. No hard feelings remain, only understanding and a stronger bond.
Consider viewing your next disagreement like sandpaper on furniture. Allow the process of smoothing the rough patches to make way for strength and intimacy. The other side of the friction promises renewed life.
Kelly Smith is a small town girl who married a small town man. They have three children. In the quiet minutes of her day, you will find her at the keyboard or curled up with a book–always with coffee. Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking in the shadow of the cross. She blogs at mrsdisciple.com.
Photograph © Jez Timms, used with permission