It doesn't always take a bigger hammer

Smaller WrenchFriday night created an opportunity to be reminded of a not often used lesson: it doesn’t always take a bigger hammer to get the job done.

After dinner we went to the backyard to kick the soccer ball with our kids. Giving the ball a mighty kick, my friend accidentally broke a water pipe to my sprinklers. Losing my train of thought and forgetting where the easy valve is on the house to turn off water, we shut off the main water valve. This required wrestling with that awkwardly shaped valve for several minutes. It’s really a good design to keep people from messing with it.

A couple of hours later, after two trips to Lowe’s and giving a little time for the PVC glue to cure, we began the task of attempting to turn the water back on. The valve is so close to its concrete enclosure that it’s impossible to turn it back on with the wrenches I was using. Both are about 10″ and the head was too large to seat on the fitting, or if it did, there was no room to turn it. We spent about 10 minutes trying to muscle this thing to turn it back on.

Finally, Chris stopped and looked in his toolbox. He comes back with a small adjustable that fit easily in my hand. Opening the mouth I thought for a second it wouldn’t fit, but it did. With just a little effort I was able to crack the valve just enough to get the large wrench on it to finish the job.

Laughing, Chris said, “it doesn’t always take a bigger hammer.” Really this was quite amusing as two 30-year old men sat in the grass fighting with a valve fitting for minutes on end. We spent too much time wrestling with this task when the little wrench would have enabled us to turn on and off the water in moments.

I’ve thought a lot about this lesson, and while it’s not earth-shattering, it’s poignant. It’s not the big things in life that have the biggest impact; it’s the little things. We may have great character traits that help us through difficult times, but those great characteristics are rarely seen. They’re cultivated by the little daily acts. We don’t win our spouse’s love through great acts of nobility and chivalry—we win it through paying attention to details and showing her constantly our interest in love through small things. Our children don’t often require great acts of self-sacrifice—they just ask for little moments of our time throughout the day.

Life doesn’t always require a bigger hammer, or in this case a wrench, to get something done. It requires the consistent use of little tools which enable us to reach our goals and overcome our challenges. This is a lesson I hope to remember, and apply, more  often.

Do you think this is a valid point? How do you see it applying in day-to-day matters?

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