Back when Danelle and I had just been married for a year or two we bought a townhouse in Glendalough, a step up from our tiny flat, and we were very excited to move in.
It was within walking distance of our flat, so some evenings we would walk down the street and past our soon to be new home. It was a vacant property and no one lived there, so occasionally we’d go close and look in the windows dreaming about how we would set up our new home.
Then one day as we were looking at it, I opened the meter box and saw a key sitting there. ‘Surely not’ I thought… ‘Surely this key won’t open the front door? Will it?’
So I tried it and it did. We stepped inside this home that wasn’t ours yet and we closed the door. We felt like naughty kids.
We walked around checked it out and then snuck out again trying to make sure no one saw us. As we walked home we said ‘we’ll never do that again’. But… we were wrong. We went back many more times and then we took family to show them where we’d be living – when we finally owned it.
It came to the point where we’d simply drop in any time we felt like it, to measure something up, or to check a colour of paint. What started as a small slip up was now just part of our lives.
Being built near the trainline the house had a number of settling cracks that looked ugly. We planned to patch the walls and repaint as soon as we moved in to make it look like new again. Then we had an idea. Why don’t we paint it now before the furniture goes in? That would be much smarter. So the next weekend we went in with a bunch of young people from our youth ministry and repainted the entire house.
If you had told me 2 months prior that I’d be illegally entering a house that I didn’t own and painting it, with young people under our leadership I’d have said you were crazy. I would never do that.
But here I was ‘breaking and renovating’…
Shortly after there was a huge storm in the area and a tile got blown off the roof of our soon to be new home. The sales agent rang and suggested we go back and do an inspection to see if there was any damage.
All I could think was, ‘Nooooo….. Let’s not!’
‘He’s gonna see we have painted the place! It’s so obvious. How do we explain that to him??!!’ So we set a time and he met us onsite to inspect. I was waiting for the gasp as he opened the door. I was ready to confess and to just get it off my conscience. But surprisingly he didn’t notice – he didn’t even look interested. Maybe he saw so many homes that he lost track of what they looked like.
We felt like we had dodged a bullet. Maybe not that big a deal as my 56 year old self reflects on it now, but at 27 I was worried.
Somehow a small slip of judgement, repeated often enough had become acceptable and over time we allowed ourselves to do things we never thought we’d do.
That’s one situation in life where it happened, but there are so many of us who ‘dabble’ in dumb stuff thinking we can walk away any time. Truth is we aren’t as strong as we’d like to think we are and the more we give ourselves a ‘free pass’ on the small stuff, the more likely we will graduate to more significant stuff.
Innocent flirting with a co-worker will never amount to anything more… Really?
A cashie here and a cashie there… Everyone does it… I’m not dishonest… Really?
A harsh word to my spouse was an exception – not the norm… I’d never be violent… Really?
Inside all of us is the potential to be an adulterer, a tax evader or an abuser. And it happens gradually as we choose not to nip dodgy stuff in the bud.
So – what is there in your life that you know is dodgy, but you give yourself a free pass on?
It might be a small thing now, but imagine your life in 10 years time as you haven’t ‘checked’ the practice. An occasional sneak at porn becomes a raging addiction and it controls your life. Or a flutter at the casino becomes an obsession and you spend your weekends feeding one arm bandits, unable to leave the table in case you may get lucky.
What’s your ‘thing’ that left unchecked will destroy you?
Get onto it now and excise it from your life. Grab a friend and confess it, pray on it and refuse to allow it to be part of your identity.
Strong words for a Saturday afternoon I know – but I’ve seen too many train wrecks of lives that could have been avoided if there had been enough self awareness and courage to just name it and deal with it.