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  • Jered Stewart

From the Inside & Out - Life is a Work in Progress

First impressions matter, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Life seems to be a paradox at times. Does the outside matter? Or is it only about what’s on the inside?


When Harry Truman was President he oversaw a major renovation of the White House from 1948 until 1952. The entire inside of the building was gutted because the building was in such terrible condition that engineers were mystified that it was still standing. It was so bad that on one occasion a leg of Margaret Truman’s piano crashed through the 2nd floor sitting room into the family dining room. What was beautiful on the outside had become rotten within. The work was so extensive that a new basement was built, complete with a bomb shelter, and a new foundation was poured with four foot reinforced concrete columns nearly 30 feet deep into the earth. The renovation took 4 years, cost over $5 million, but in the end, it was said that building would last at least 500 years.


As the project began, there was some discussion to consider demolishing the building and start from scratch, which actually would have cost less money. However, at the time there was a war in Korea, and President Truman felt it was important to keep the exterior of the building intact, if only as a symbol. If the White House were torn down in the middle of a war, it was felt that what was left of the morale of the country would evaporate. The symbolism, the outward appearance, did in fact matter.


As human beings it may be easy at times to keep up outward appearances that don’t reflect our inward condition. And as humans, it isn’t easy to complete a major renovation on the inside, whether it’s a physical, emotional, or psychological upgrade. Unfortunately, the work it may take to upgrade ourselves may be more painful and challenging. If only it were as easy as removing some walls and floors and installing new cabinets and a fresh coat of paint.


It seems that we are all a work in progress. Some of us may be going through some minor renovations within, and others might be more extensive. I once read that we should always assume the best about others. So maybe that’s the message this month, assume the best, remember that we’re all a work in progress, most people are doing the best they can, and that sometimes it takes a great deal of time before those repairs are complete. So if you’re in the middle of a renovation, keep up the good work, and keep working for the good.


“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities, and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” - President Harry S. Truman


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