Several months after we moved to Lancaster, some dear friends of our family made arrangements for us to move out of our tiny apartment into a real house. Our apartment did not have air conditioning (which makes for rough summers in the desert), and the previous occupants had animals that left the carpets soiled beyond repair. Needless to say, I was excited and thankful to have a home. It wasn’t long before I began decorating it room by room.
Wallpaper was popular at the time, and I found a print that I thought would be beautiful in our bedroom. It was patterned with delicate vines and laced with country blue and mauve flowers and finished with a silky sheen.
I had never wallpapered before, but I didn’t let this deter me. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult. I had watched someone do it once, and she made it look easy. This would be a cinch!
Choosing where in the room to begin was my first decision. I knew the paper needed to hang straight, so I figured the best place to start would be in one of the corners. I was sure that the corners would be perfectly square and straight. (If you have ever wallpapered a room, you know that was a definite misconception!)
I measured my first piece, cut it, and soaked it in warm water to activate the glue. Carefully, using the corner as my guide, I fixed it to the wall. I measured and cut the next piece and hung it. Then I began the next. I was beginning to feel pretty professional at this.
As I reached the end of the first wall, though, I faced a problem. The edge of the wallpaper was not straight with the corner. I stepped back to look from the other end of the room. Sure enough—the paper was definitely crooked.
This is when I learned the importance of a plumb line. It is also when I discovered that wallpaper is far harder to remove than it is to put up! Over the next several hours, I learned that removing wallpaper can rip off part of the drywall behind it, that patching walls is tedious and time-consuming, and that purchasing another roll of wallpaper for one that was needlessly wasted is frustrating.
The crooked wallpaper, torn walls, extra expense, and hours of additional work were nothing like what I had in mind when I started the project. But I really had no one to blame but myself! After all, the result was simply a series of my own choices. I chose to not seek advice but to learn as I worked. I chose to work without a plumb line. I chose to believe that things were as they were not (i.e., the corners of my bedroom being straight). The end result was the accumulated effect of my choices.
Just as my bedroom reflected the sum total of my choices, so our lives will reflect the series of choices we make. Unless we make conscious decisions to choose wisely, we will base our choices simply on what looks best to us at the moment. As a result, our lives will end in a disheveled disarray—not at all the picture we had in mind when we started.
On the other hand, if we daily make well thought out choices, the accumulated result will be beauty and symmetry.
(This artice was excerpted from the book The Choice Is Yours, available from Striving Together Publications.)