The Ugly Barstool

Have you ever looked at something for so long that you don’t see it anymore? It happens to us all the time. It’s usually a household décor item. Here’s how it goes down: We don’t have an item that we probably need, but we find something that “will work” until we find what we like. A little time goes by, and we forget all about it. We live with the substitute so long that we give it a permanent place by default.

Honestly, I don’t even know the origin of the random barstool that lived in our kitchen for about seven years. The barstools at the kitchen counter are distressed black with rich, wooden seats. Love ‘em. Somehow, though, we acquired a too-tall-for-the-counter, cheaply made, light wood finish barstool that found its home beside the fridge. It would frequently be pulled over into the kitchen, and someone would perch on it for conversation with the cook. I loved that, since I’m usually the cook.

Somehow, a few days ago, my eyes were opened and I thought to myself, Why is that still here? And, Wow! How long has it been? As it happened, I didn’t have too much on my list for the day, so I made my way down to a favorite wholesale furniture warehouse. Within 45 minutes, I had the perfect replacement — a handsome, correct-height, distressed black stool with a rush seat. It blended beautifully with the rest of the furniture.

Now I’m not one to give everything a spiritual spin, but I couldn’t help thinking how easy it is to cease noticing little things in my own life or heart that aren’t pretty. I intend to get around to it, but instead, I let busyness propel me forward and keep me from stopping long enough to deal with the much needed inner housekeeping.

Anything going on in your heart that has been there so long it’s become part of your personal landscape? Chances are, other people can see it and might wonder why you allow it to stay. Excuse me while I go do a little heart purge. Meanwhile, which stool do YOU think is cuter?



  1. says

    I love this analogy. I use a similar one with young women about dating. I once bought a pressboard entertainment center “in the meantime” while I saved for a more long term one. Realized I quickly got used to that one and decided “it would do” and stopped saving for the real one. If we “settle” for a placeholder we can grow comfortable with it and completely miss the joy of waiting for the real thing. Applicable to so many areas of life!

  2. Carolynn says

    Thanks so much. That was such a clear example of how it works. I am going to take a few minutes and do some purging myself. This is a good reminder on a regular basis. Maybe even a good question to ask someone…”Is there an old stool in my life that should be traded in for the real thing?” That reminds me of the sermon by Jeff about asking someone what is t is like to sit across the table from me? Thanks Sandra for your wise insight.

  3. Tifani Thompson says

    I so much love your analogy! This is such important stuff to keep in check…and to also make sure we have the ‘breathing room’ in our lives to keep our hearts healthy. Thank you for this wisdom!….and the reminder of it all. I will be praying about this tonight:)

    P.S. I like the black barstool:):)

  4. Paige says

    Oh how true! In my home its the cobwebs I don’t see until I stand on a chair to dust the fan and then, whoa! Excited about your blog. My husband, Justin, and I have done a lot of Andy’s studies. We really loved the one on parenting that you were a part. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  5. Sandy Gobrogge says

    I’m happy I followed the twitter link to read this. Often I pray for God to purge my heart of the things that are not His. Added bonus, I get to see the lovely lady Andy Stanley is married to, and the daughter-in-law of the man I consider a mentor to my faith!

  6. says

    I choose the old stool because I can change it’s appearance with paint and imagination. But that plays right into your analogy doesn’t it? I have just covered up what is underneath instead of purging. I enjoyed reading your blog and found it thought provoking. I do have that same stool but mine is painted white with a watermelon slice painted on the seat. So my analogy is that it is not a throwaway because it is ugly. It can be changed into something beautiful with a little work.

  7. Mary Driver says

    The “Ugly Barstool” has been on my mind all day. What a great analogy. The ugly little things that we ignore become big ugly things if we leave them on the shelf to collect dust to long. Sometimes it just seems easier to stay busy and forget or is it really that we just don’t want to face. Either way I know I have some things that have been put off and I am glad you used this barstool to remind me of who I am and why I need to refocus some time.

    By the way I like the black stool, I had the other stool and tried painting it years ago for my kids when the were small.. It didn’t work it was still ugly and took up space and honestly was no very safe now that I think about it.

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