It should have been an easy project. I was trying to fit a hollow tube into a slightly larger one at a forty-five degree angle. Simple. Drill a correctly angled hole in the big pipe, cut the other pipe at the correct angle, and that’s a it, yes? No. When I looked through the big pipe to see how the little one fit, there was a huge gap rather than a nice, tight connection.
Ok, no problem. Just form the little tube according to what I thought to the shape should be and I would be done in jiffy. I kept getting close, but not close enough. Fine. Keep refining the contours, and all will be good, right? Nope. Try as I might, what I was doing didn’t work. With every look down the pipe I could see that I was making no progress, other than ever shortening the small tube.
Frustrated, I took a careful look at the ugly, imperfect joint. I knew my approach was wrong. I could feel it in my bones that shape the small tube needed to be it would fit precisely against the inside wall of the big tube was not obvious or logical. I just couldn’t figure out what it would take to make it right.
After a few minutes of pondering and observing the two ill fitting pieces in all their lack of glory, I made a fresh cut according to what I saw, rather than what I thought was correct. Surprise! The pieces actually started to fit! Continuing to work against what my brain was telling me to do, I was able to finally get the precise fit I wanted! Hallelujah! Mind you, the end of the small tube didn’t look like what I expected it to, but that didn’t matter. It fit correctly and that was it.
Since I had two other sets of pipes to fit together, I made a cardboard template according to my (finally!) correct product. When I laid it flat, it looked more like a steeply sided, rounded hill (or a sine wave, for the mathematically minded amongst you…). That was a surprising result, as it seemed counter-intuitive, but who was I to argue? I worked, and using the template it took me only a matter of minutes to form the other pieces correctly. Yay!
Have you ever met someone you couldn’t just quite figure out? Have you ever tried to work with them or get along with them in a way that seemed to make sense, but didn’t work out at all? While we might all be made in God’s image, each of us expresses a different aspect of our Creator, which means that some folks don’t fit into our neat little understanding of how people work. At the same time, we probably don’t fit into theirs either.
Sometimes when we deal with others we have to look at them for who they are, not who we believe them to be. It wasn’t until I actually looked at my problematic pipes without thinking about what I saw that I came up with the right, albeit still confusing, solution.
It’s like that with people, too. Sometimes our assumptions make it hard to know someone. Sometimes we need to set aside our assumptions so that we can see and appreciate others for who they are and where they fit into our lives. Sometimes the most logical way to get close to a person to do is to give up on logic and see who it is that’s right before our eyes.