After returning from my full-time missionary service, I started work with my father building decks down on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
I remember standing there one morning and thinking about how life was now entering a new phase and I wondered how I would adapt to it. I pondered for a moment how I could enjoy a spiritual flow throughout the day like I did living a missionary lifestyle but while doing this crude work with wood, nails, and sawdust.
I thought of Jesus who was a carpenter’s son just like I am. I thought about how he probably helped his father much like I did, and I marveled at how silent the scriptures were concerning these years. Couldn’t we have seen an example of how to live a normal life but after a manner of holiness?
I wondered if there was a reason why that was missing from the narrative of scripture. I wondered if maybe we were meant to fill in those gaps with the diversity of our own lives and experiences.
Then, I had a ridiculous idea.
Well, it was kind of an experiment that I did that sounds ridiculous. My thoughts gravitated back to my task at hand which was to pound hundreds of nails into the deck in front of me. I knelt down and positioned the first nail with my left hand and dropped a small strike with the hammer in my right hand to set it. I pounded the 16 penny nail with three swift strikes and said vocally, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
I’m serious, I really did this and while the vocal words gradually toned down to a whisper and then just mentally (I was moving fast), I did this all day for every single task I performed, including those hundreds of nails.
I noticed how focused I was on each act, I sought to make every nail just right, and every cut straight and true. I wasn’t so much focused on trying to make everything perfect per se, but to do everything in a manner that made it sacred.
I realized then that no line needed to exist in my mind between my daily labor and my spiritual life, and that I could see everything as one whole. This was a powerful lesson to me and I’ve done things the same way ever since. While I don’t say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen” after every thing I do, (that was just that one day) I find divine parallels to almost every task I perform.
With web design I have found so many cool similarities to creating websites with HTML and CSS and the process of creation as described in the various accounts (I could go on for hours). As a UX designer, I’ve noticed how the process of creating good experiences for users moving through a product has caused me to think about how I can create good experiences with my family, friends, and those I serve.
I’m resisting the temptation to go into great depth on these and so many more things, and maybe we’ll explore some of those things in future posts, or maybe I should be as silent as the scriptures and allow you to focus more on your own experiences.
Things are holy or sacred because we make them that way, we set them apart, we endow them with meaning. Your work as a parent, a sibling, a lawyer, construction worker, landscaper, accountant, teacher, designer, secretary, salesperson, or whatever, can be made a sacred part of your life. INFUSE it with what you know, look for parallels, and find out how particular gospel principles can be applied.
If you have a hostile environment with bad language, influences, and surroundings and can’t see how you could ever feel the Spirit there, think again (I have a cool story about something along these lines as well). Gospel principles can be applied anywhere if you open your eyes and learn to see them.
Where once you might have felt guilty about not being able to “find time” for your spirituality, now you can live in a continual state of grace where the influence of the Spirit can flow continually. Go ahead and give it a try!