The lesson of the table

When Nature Boy first presented his farmhouse table vision to me, I was at best skeptical. Why build a table from scratch, I thought, when so many exist to be reused? And why undertake such a huge project, I frowned, when its execution might put our young marriage at risk?

You see, I like to be in control. (Did you know that about me? Perhaps you did.) I enjoy when projects follow my brand of efficiency and have clear benchmarks along the way. I also enjoy not having to go to Home Depot. As presented, the farmhouse table project would not fulfill any of my personal goal-setting tenets.

Tackling woodworking on such a grand scale, however, did not daunt my novice carpenter of a spouse; rather, it invigorated him. He was eager to explore and learn the process -- a trait I already love and admire about him. He was also ready to follow his own project management style to get there -- a trait that I respect as his adult right, even when it challenges me to be brutally honest about my frequent inability to cede ground.

And follow his own style he did, right up until two nights before our annual summer party, the deadline for the table to be finished. As dusk fell and humidity persisted, he and I stood in the driveway observing the half-nailed wooden pallet boards that comprised the tabletop, wondering how in the world we were going to eliminate the significant gap that had emerged in the middle.

True to form, I was panicking about the thing while also panicking about my panicking. Where did we go wrong?! How could we fix it at this late stage? Has it all been a waste of time? What if it's not done for the party? Why am I worried about a party? I should worry about my attitude! my Type A super-ego screeched.

Nature Boy seemed to have no such inner screech fest. He was thoughtful and patient as we rearranged the boards; in fact, he appeared to be enjoying this nerve-wracking affair. My super-ego busily seethed at the perceived imbalance of investment of feeling until my husband turned to me part way through a rearranged row and said, "This is fun! This is exactly what I pictured when I wanted to build the table -- that we'd work on it together."

Just like that, the truth of the situation dropped into place. Goal-setting, hands-on work, tangible output -- all good aims, no question. But the opportunity to spend time together, create something new, problem-solve in tandem? Nobler aims by far.

Here, my biggest takeaway from our first year of marriage crystallized in a hefty, wooden, substantial way: the joy is in the teamwork. I can fuss and schedule and manage all I want, but we are strongest when we work together. I'm saying this out loud to you because this lesson is not easy. I do not always heed it. I am often bad at it. But when we hit our stride ... man, are we unstoppable.

So with that in mind, I'd like to take this moment to say -- Happy 1st Anniversary, Nature Boy! Every time we sit and eat and laugh at the gorgeous table you built, may we remember it is held together by love.*

* And lots of nails.

Prayer #314: Rustically Made

Rough, plain, simple are we -- unfinished yet hardy in our make. Where once I stood alone, proud and upright, You have now bonded me to another, and our unique design emerges stronger, sturdier, for its conjunction.

Master Carpenter, who chiseled each of us by vibrant vision, help us eschew all formal plans and embrace our wild forms. For by Your grace alone, our spirits refine our raw material, proving that we do not need perfection to be loved.