I spent the past three days in Birmingham, Alabama celebrating (even though we lost) my awesome alma mater’s trip to the Birmingham Bowl. Even though it was rainy and cool in the stands, it felt great to be amongst all the Tiger fans (on both sides). It felt especially great seeing some old college friends. People I’ve known since 1997 when I was a teenage mother who brought my son to campus, games, and everywhere.
As I drove back to Memphis, I began to reflect on those friendships and the friendship of my travel companion. My dear friend Naomi who I’ve known since our sons became friends in the second grade. They are almost 21 now. As she slept, I was alone with my thoughts as I often am, and I was saddened by the number of relationships I’ve seen and personally experienced damaged or even destroyed because steps weren’t taken before things got worse or harder (or too hard for some) to deal with.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Do you truly understand what that means? It applies to everything, really. For example, about a month ago a sheet of glass from my refrigerator shattered in my hands as I ran water over it cleaning it in my sink. Glass pieces filled my sink, a lot went into my garbage disposal. I tried to suck it out with my vacuum cleaner, but the disposal was still jammed. I needed to call a plumber to do their thing to release the glass and make my disposal usable again, but being tight on funds, I figured it would be okay and eventually work itself out. After all, it looked like most things were still going down the sink fine still.
Two days before I left for Birmingham, I cooked a pot roast and cleaned my house because I hate coming home to a dirty house. Plus, one time I returned home to annoying, hard to get rid of gnats because I had forgotten to take out one bag of garbage and run the dishwasher. This time I made sure the house was clean before I left even pressing “start” on the dishwasher as I headed out the door for my three-day trip.
So why did I come home to a foul-spelling house, nasty sink, and more hard to get rid of gnats? Because the garbage disposal was still clogged and the dishwasher pushed crap (pot roast bits) up into the sink and the gnats were in heaven. And now I have to clean all the junk out of the sink, get rid of the gnats, restore the smell of my house, and still get the garbage disposal fixed.
Glad it’s not even worse, but I wish I would have made that first stitch when I knew the garbage disposal really needed to have that glass released instead of…
…ignoring it, pretending it didn’t exist, thinking it wasn’t as bad as I already knew it was, thinking it would fix itself, or just moving on to the next thing.
That’s what too many of us do with relationships. With our our parents, our children, our siblings, our family, our friends, our co-workers.
Rather than addressing issue (the hole) when it first appears, we choose not to. Why? Because it’s hard to talk or hard to talk to that person. It’s too complicated or it is no big deal (but really is at least to us). So we just go on instead of getting the needle and thread immediately.
As time goes on, the initial problem becomes a nasty mess.
That little (or even big) hole that needed just one stitch gets bigger.
It gets wider. It gets deeper. It even gets dirty and spreads to other garments (people) who had nothing to do with it. And it causes other problems.
When a simple stitch in the beginning could have fixed the hole before it got so big that you now require a whole spool of thread to fix it. Or so much time and cleaner to get the dried up, smelly pot roast out of the sink and get rid of the gnats, and you still have to call in a professional.
Now the solution takes so much to fix the problem. Now there is sooooo much that needs to be done and said and so many people are involved. So much misunderstanding, so much hurt, and so little compassion and communication.
So much and so little that you decide it’s not even worth fixing. It’s easier to let the relationship that once meant so much to you just go.
On this last day of the year, let’s get to work making those stitches with whomever you love and is willing to make those stitches with you. Whether it’s nine or nine-hundred, as long as both or all parties are interested and willing to do the now tedious seamstress work.
And, in 2016 let’s remember…
A stitch in time saves nine
When problems come (and they definitely will), address it, fix it, deal with it, sew it immediately.