Imagine for a moment that you just walked into a master craftsman’s woodshop. Pieces of raw wood are stacked neatly on shelves, and the smell of sawdust fills your nostrils as you enter. You step over a few wood scraps of wood on the floor, and you see more pieces with fresh cuts laid out across a large workbench. The room is filled with equipment – some are hand tools, and others are electric. There’s an old boombox in the back corner, and the sound of seventies rock wanders through the space.

Sitting in the back corner of the shop, you see one of the most beautiful wooden tables you’ve ever laid eyes on. Its lines are bold and strong, and as you walk toward it, you can see that every detail of this piece has been meticulously created. The joints are perfectly fabricated, the cuts are exact and crisp, and the wood is finished in a way that accentuates the wood’s natural grain and beauty.

This table didn’t fall out of a tree ready-made. Instead, the craftsman took those raw materials off the shelves and spent hours working with them until they had assembled this beautiful table. They spent time visioning what this table would look like. They selected the perfect pieces of rough-cut wood to create their masterpiece. They stayed in the shop late at night, working by hand to get every detail just right. They carefully put each piece together, one-by-one. Working on this project, their hands became rough, calloused, and scarred.

It was a process. 

It took time.

It took energy and intention.

It left some scars.

In the end, it is beautiful.

And it all began with those raw materials – those rough pieces of wood on those shelves. 

Our lives are made up of those rough pieces of wood. We don’t arrive on this earth as a finished product. Instead, over the years and through our experiences, we are built and crafted into something beautiful. Being crafted, though, can be painful. We get cut, sometimes deep, and whole sections of our lives get carved away. We get shaved, notched, chipped, and drilled – each step discarding a little more of our past. We get sanded, removing layers of disappointment, uncertainty, and unmet expectations. Then, all those pieces get assembled, with layers of stain and varnish applied. Over time, something beautiful appears. 

Each of those stages is necessary to take our raw materials and create the “finished product” version of ourselves. Truth be told, we’re never really finished. We’re always a work-in-progress, but with work and attention, we become masterpieces. 

Not feeling like a masterpiece today? Frustrated with where you’re at right now? Do you have unmet goals or things you’re struggling with that you feel like you should have mastered already? Not as far along in life as you wish? Worse yet, when you compare yourself to other people, you feel like they’re moving faster than you are?

I’ve been there. 

At thirty-eight, I was recently divorced and trying to launch a new business. Everything I had built up had fallen apart, my mental health was strained, and I was left trying to hold it all together for my kids. In the middle of this mid-life reset, I was watching people pass me by. 

Then, one day, I realized that I had some great raw materials lying around… so I picked up what looked like scraps and started to build my masterpiece. I’m still building. Some days I feel like I’m making progress, and other days all I see is a pile of pieces waiting to become something. In the end, though, I see so much potential in my raw materials that I keep spending time in the shop. Sometimes late nights, and sometimes rough, calloused hands, but I keep working at it because I can see in my mind what I am building. And, I understand that this is a journey that takes time. 

Here’s an added thought for those of you who include faith in your lives. I’ve learned over time that sometimes I need to let a master craftsman take over – that I can’t do this alone. This is when my faith comes into play, and I allow God to take over. Yes, there are many things that I need to do for myself, but there are also moments where I need to be that piece of wood and let God do a work in me that I can’t do myself. When I let go, that’s when God steps in.

The Takeaway

See your raw materials for what they are, the pieces of something amazing. They may not be put together yet, and there may be a lot of work to do with them before they’re ready to be put together. You may not be where you want right now. You might have goals that are still unmet and battles you’re still fighting, but remember this – there is a masterpiece in your raw materials; it just takes time and work. Embrace that, and get to work.

Here’s to the hard work, to building incredible lives, and to working on this together. You are not alone. Subscribe here for more insights and challenges like this one, and together, we’ll make amazing things from our raw materials.