There’s a Bible story about a man who was sitting at the Pool of Bethesda, waiting for the spirit to move the waters so he could jump in and be healed.
Jesus sees this guy and says “wilt thou be made whole?” And the guy says, “There’s no one here who will help me get in the pool first and, doggone it, someone else always jumps in first.”
Which did not answer the question.
I have to admit, I’d probably do the same thing.
For instance, if someone (including but not limited to Jesus) walked up right now and said, “wouldn’t you prefer a kitchen that works?” I would most likely rattle off all the reasons we can’t do a kitchen remodel right now and then I’d go into great detail about all the things that are wrong with our kitchen and the next thing you know, I’d be on that very kitchen floor, weeping inconsolably.
I can’t remodel our kitchen because there are eleven hundred external factors standing between me and new cupboards – factors I have no control over. I don’t do anything because all these other things have to align first and… does anyone see them aligning? No.
What it boils down to is an external versus an internal thing. There’s a lot out there we can’t control. Let external factors dictate your life and you’re toast.
It’s also a will versus want thing.
I have trouble paraphrasing “wilt thou be made whole” because we don’t use “wilt” except for lettuce these days.
In our modern language, we say “want,” which does not necessarily mean what we think it means.
If you look it up, definitions include “to be needy or destitute,” “to feel the absence of,” “to suffer from lack,” etc. So if you say “do you want a functioning kitchen” I hear “do you feel the absence of a functioning kitchen?”
Which, please, have you seen my kitchen? Blech. You bet I feel it. And here are my excuses for why it will stay that way.
According to the Free Dictionary, will is defined:
The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.
When we deliberately choose a course of action, we relinquish hopelessness. We decide it will be better.
We do things, little things, to make it better. We clean hinges so the cupboards close. We discard unused kitchen tools. We are no longer paralyzed, waiting by the Pool of Bethesda.
I haven’t actually done this with my kitchen yet.
I figured I’d try it out on you first.
I started thinking about this a couple years ago as I lay in a heap on my living room floor, observing a crack in the ceiling.
It didn’t make sense to fix the crack and paint the ceiling because it would happen again when the roof leaked again. We couldn’t fix the roof because… honestly I don’t remember why we couldn’t fix the roof.
I was so frustrated and disheartened. I knew I had to think differently about my home.
I wanted my home to be whole. I decided my home would be whole.
I began doing things, little things, toward this goal. The little things snowballed and became big things. Despite whatever our insurmountable reasons were, we did eventually fix the roof. Little by little, our home has been made whole (with a few glaring exceptions).
There are so many things we can apply this to – and when I say we, I mean my family. You can apply it too, of course.
Will you, your home, your career, your relationship be made whole?
Answer the question. No excuses.
This column originally appeared in The Magazine of Yoga