No, I’m not referring to a cartoon, and no, I don’t need a trip to the you-know-what. This doll house didn’t come with audible voices. It was a symbol for about six months – an imposing, silent, unfinished structure that would sit in front of me and remind me of unfinished business. Here’s the story:
Somewhere around Carrie’s eighth- or ninth-grade year, she became really interested in doll houses and all things miniature. So we loaded her up one Christmas with the house, furniture, shingles for the roof, and other assorted stuff. Over time, she lost interest, and needed space in her bedroom for other pursuits. The unfinished doll house wound up in a room we used as both study/office and a family room of sorts. It was en route to the attic, but was apparently on the scenic route to get there.
For months the doll house sat there, looking like the result of a tornado that ripped through Dollville. (Truth is, Joel had knocked it over one day, and just crammed everything back into it. So the bathtub sat, along with the bed, in the living room near the toilet.)
Children have passing interests that they outgrow; that’s part of living. What haunted and taunted me was what the doll house didn’t have. When we bought it, Robin and Carrie decided it needed to be wired – yes, wired – for lighting. So left-handed Dad discovered that – yes, indeed – they make wiring and lights for doll houses. I started working on it. And, like so many other things, never finished it. Carrie’s job, among others, was to finish putting shingles on the roof. She wasn’t much more of a roofer than I was an electrician. It, too, sat half-finished.
And every day it quietly spoke those same two haunting words to me: Unfinished Business.
In the Myers-Briggs world of personalities, I am a “P.” It stands for perceiver, whatever that means, but in practical terms it means I have a high tolerance for leaving things hanging and unresolved. “J” personalities, on the other hand, require closure and order. Robin is like that, which is why she will always clean the house, get a glass of water, turn off every single light down to the blinking green light on the VCR, and then go to bed.
Me? Eyelids droop, I drop.
Most days I can live with that. The problems come when I start living by procrastination rather than living by purpose.
Those temple building friends, led by Zerubbabel, knew something of that as well. Once the foundation was built and the people began worshipping there, the enemies of God rose up to stop it. They used political means, having a letter sent to the new king of Persia, who issued a new decree to stop building until he could research it further.
So they stopped.
And, apparently according to Haggai, settled in. They began to accept half-built temples as the norm.
They made friends with Unfinished Business.
Here’s the problem: So many half-built temples and wireless doll houses become monuments to regret when our lives are up. Today some may seem small, while others are pretty big. Some may already appear like water under the bridge – we may as well move on and forget about it. But others may still be staring, calling, reminding – like the doll house on Tornado Alley that silently awaited either resurrection or burial.
Why do our lives gather up such a load of Unfinished Business? Many reasons:
- going to sleep and waking up in a different frame of mind
- conflicting responsibilities
- lack of organizational/administrative skill
- simple failure to follow through.
Fortunately, though, for most of us, there is time for course correction. Heeding the silent invitation of the doll house, I declared one year recently as The Year of Unfinished Business. It’s probably time for a rerun.
I really do want to be remembered as a good finisher, not just a great starter. I want to be able to say I laid all my Unfinished Business to rest, and did everything I could to make my entry into the presence of God with no regrets.
Be prepared. When you start asking God what new, exciting thing you should be doing, He may just take you back to the foundations you laid some time ago, and remind you to start there.
How about you? Do you have anything lurking? Blinking? Calling? Someone waiting? Disappointed? Hurt? Don’t accept Unfinished Business as the story of your life.
As for us, our talking doll house found its way out of Tornado Alley, into the home of a new little girl. I hope it speaks just as profoundly to her family as it did to mine.