Veneer vs. Real Wood
Originally, this article released on God’s Pen Pals. However, I’ve just encountered another situation at work with another set of veneer cabinets. Then, I discovered this 100+ year old table in my grandparents’ home and refinished it. It’s the real deal! Wood–beauty and strength–all the way to the core.
So. . .it seemed time to take a look again. . .
This is not a deeply spiritual article, but an attempt to sort, learn, and move forward.
My light-hearted rant begins like this:
Why do we choose the fluff and veneers over the REAL DEAL?
How it started. . .
Let me explain. My current line of work brings me across many different people and situations. I’ve observed that while everyone has their own individuality, we all share common, and core, needs. Some would call this our humanity, or the core desires of the human heart: to love and be loved, to have purpose, and to be accepted, etc.
Recently, I was asked to look at some damage in an upscale home still under construction. Normally, I like seeing things being constructed. I like the process of movement from idea to reality. This time I was frustrated.
Why? I asked myself. I trouble shot it–it wasn’t jealousy, selfishness, or feeling excluded. The frustration and aggravation remained.
When I stopped to investigate, my spirit spoke. An aha moment.
It was. . .
The house was touted to have the finest imported cabinetry and flooring. When I moved to inspect the house in person, the facts did not line up with the report I heard on the phone. I saw first-hand that the “finest imported” cabinetry was actually particleboard covered with veneer.
I guess I always associated the finer things in life with quality. You know, its ability to stand the test of time. One definition of the word quality is “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something; a defining line.”
Here is my angst–particleboard with veneer is not the same as real wood!
It can’t stand the test of time. In fact, when it gets wet, it disintegrates! Calling particleboard cabinets the “finest imported cabinetry” does not magically change what it is.
Once I gave my spirit a chance to give language to why this struck such an off-key chord with me, I felt better.
I’m not on a mission to rid the world of particleboard. In fact, I confess I have some particleboard items in the house. But, I won’t bill it to you as the “latest and greatest.”
Having done various woodworking projects, there’s really something to be said about the process. I like seeing the blank piece of wood become an item of purpose, the grain adding to its beauty. Much could be said about those processes and how they parallel God’s processes of shaping us for purpose and destiny.
Returning to the veneer, I’d like to stop for a moment and make the point that, as a culture, we have removed the reliable measuring stick of what determines quality, strength, and longevity. Therein lies the frustration in my spirit.
Wood by any other name. . .
We have blurred the lines. We have labeled what is fake as real. We call imitations genuine. Even with butter—we call margarine butter. We have called what is wrong right. And sin? That has been re-termed “personal expression.” So many seem to believe that the name change is accurate, but it is not.
In the culture, there is a loss of the understanding of what is real, true and solid. There is time spent on pursuing fake, fluff-filled veneers, and living for the moment. I am afraid that this thinking has moved out of the marketplace and infiltrated our homes, churches and hearts.
What furniture says. . .
A quick overview of church history shows the progression well. Pre-Reformation, the central piece of furniture in the church was the Communion Table, leading focus to identify with Christ. Post-Reformation, the central furniture was the pulpit, leading focus to the preaching of the Word. Now, it is, in general, a stage, leading focus to entertainment. Just as a side note: The first two items of furniture were solid wood; the last, particleboard (sorry, I just couldn’t resist).
My point is this–we are seeking the veneer, the mere appearance of quality, and thus allowing our lives to be filled with fluff and fillers. We have put pretty facades on church buildings, and in our lives, we have neglected the internal work of righteousness–that consists of the 1,000 choices we have to make each day and week and month and year to believe and to do what is right according to what God says is right–which produces core strength. We are losing who we are as individuals and a nation. Moreover, we are losing who God has called us and created us to be. To be real, not perfect. To be solid, not flimsy.
The beauty of natural building materials, such as wood and stone, lies in the imperfections and the individuality of the grain. This represents our humanity. I am reminded that the Temple was made with these same items–and that it represents you and me–because we are the living stones which are being built together to be the portable meeting place where God lives.
(100+ year old real wood table from my grandparents Wade.)
Father, I thank You that Your creation is good–and that I, Your creation, am wonderfully and beautifully made. Help me to see the real me through Your eyes, the person who You have created and called me to be. Help me to stay in peace and understanding that Your processes take longer, but they create a quality product (me) with strength to the core which is able to stand the test of time. Give me grace to stay in process with You, choosing to stay in Your processes which require time and patience, rather than jumping off Your woodworking table for a quick-fix which will leave me without a solid core. Help me to not settle for a shiny finish, but to trust You when the process is long, and I am tired. Thank You, Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
copyright by Stephen Wade, 2015