I always thought that Henry Ford’s first car was the Model T.
I was wrong.
The first automobile was the “quadricycle”—its name reflective of its four large bicycle-like tires
At 2 a.m. on the morning of June 4, 1896, in a rented coal shed behind his Bagley Avenue home in Detroit, the thirty two-year-old Henry completed his first car.
Anxious to test drive it on Detroit’s cobblestone streets, he rolled it to the door, only to realize there was a problem—not with the car, but with the doorway. He assumed he would be able to get it out of the existing shed door. But, it’s 1896—garage doors were not necessary yet. And the original doorway built to accommodate a person was too small for his car.
Being a man of determination and action, Henry grabbed a rusty sledgehammer and began whaling at the bricks to widen the doorway.
Of a rented shed–William Wreford’s shed—at 2 a.m.
Hearing the ruckus, a startled William Wreford, arose to see Henry Ford destroying his property. He sprinted down stairs, still in his pajamas. Upon arriving, fists clenched ready to pounce on Henry, he saw the quadricycle.
His fists relaxed as he stared in awe and disbelief at what some would call the greatest invention in human history. Wreford lowered his head and slumped back to his house. Minutes later, he returned holding his own sledgehammer and asked Henry if they could clear the doorway together.
At approximately 3 a.m. Henry and Wreford pushed the quadricycle through and over bricks and debris ultimately onto Bagely Avenue where Henry would start and drive the world’s first automobile.
Weeks later, Wreford paid a carpenter to professionally instal the world’s first “garage door”.
You’ve never heard of William Wreford. His name is not listed alongside Ford’s in the annals of human history. But his role in the birth of motorized transportation was pivotal. Without Wreford, it is possible that Henry’s original genius, the invention that would pave the way for countless others like it, would have remained trapped in a coal shed.
Like Henry, your kids work hard to recognize, develop and offer the invention of who they are to the world.
Like Henry, your kids arrive at the doorway of life sometimes unable to see their way through a too narrow threshold, one framed with bricks of anxiety, disenchantment and self doubt.
Like William Wreford, we have a choice. We can choose to hammer them for not finding a way to navigate life’s challenges. Or, we can be thankful that our homes, our classrooms, courts, fields, churches and coffee houses are where they invent and reinvent themselves, learning how to hammer away at the bricks of doubt, fear and apathy that, often unbeknownst to them, trap them inside the walls of a too small life.
Most of what you do in the life of your kids will go unremembered, unrecognized and at times unappreciated.
But, you do make a difference.
You are not alone.
You are armed with sledgehammers of grace.
The work you do, parenting, mentoring, teaching, ministering and coaching young people makes a difference.
Day by day, hour by hour, you hammer away.
With each swing, with each brick, with each child, regardless how defiant, apathetic or entitled, you help clear a path for them and countless others who will follow them.
You do make a difference.