Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Things Fall Apart

My friend Christine writes, "I tell my daughter always to speak nicely to appliances, computers and cars. Because we don't want to anger them when they wield so much power."

Yes, yes, yes.

I'm now convinced that whiny, sniveling posts about appliance malfunctions and computer glitches simply -- inexorably -- invite more of the same. I had no sooner hit "publish" on my last whiny piece when things went south on Tim's computer project. He was finished. The thing was done. And not just done, but really, really neat. I should have come up to him softly and said in a calm sort of voice, "Okay, Tim. It's time to save it in the three different formats and then back slowly away."

But no.

He went to do a final tweak, and every last photo on his website was gone, baby, gone including the collage he had labored over for who knows how long.


I prayed. I secretly cried. I made the sign of the cross with holy water.

He started over.

At 2:00 -- that would be 2:00 a.m. -- he finished. For the second time.


Then there's the van. I love my van. My kids roll their eyes, make subtle gagging noises when I say this. But precisely how many car payments have they made? Hmmmm? That would be none. I, however, have made a few car payments in my day. And when you have, you appreciate a sturdy, reliable, boring vehicle that starts every single day and gets you and your young ones safely from point A to point B.

Yes, it's boring. No, it's not exactly a chick magnet. Yes, it has a wide variety of scratches and dents.

A friend once asked, "Oh, what happened to the van? You've got a dent."

"To which dent are you referring," I asked.

Let's see ... Dent number one appeared when I kissed another car in the bank parking lot. Dent number two? I brushed up against a truck in the grocery store parking lot. There's the dent with just a hint of red that matches the giant red ball in front of Target. My favorite is the dent on the left rear bumper brought to you by the tree in the piano teacher's yard. We had just a tiny collision as I attempted to referee a mammoth brawl while simultaneously backing up.

But every single month I don't pay for it, I love my van just a little more.

Well, it's having issues. Not major ones, no. The driver's side window is making alarming noises. The power locks have essentially no power. The headliner is floppy. A small crack appeared in the windshield during the ice storm, and on the next cold day, we watched the crack grow from about three inches to about three feet in the span of ten minutes.


Let's move on to appliances. Suddenly the refrigerator wouldn't close. And we're Googling "Kitchen-aide door gaskets" and pondering ways to remove the faulty gasket and to think a few days ago I didn't really know what a gasket was.

And then we have a plumbing problem. This is probably most alarming as it likely originates somewhere in the backyard which tells me it will be 1) difficult and 2) time consuming which added together will lead to 3) pricey.

Add to this a bum knee, a sore throat, a runny nose, and another round of Pink Eye.


I have not been known for my ability to take these things in stride. I think I've shared my simple five step strategy for dealing with stress. To review: Step 1: Panic. Step 2: Buy a book. Steps 3-5 vary and include but are not limited to: crying, pouring a glass of wine, and consuming gluttonous quantities of chocolate (I recommend Reese's Peanut Butter Cups).

Just the other day I had a mini-breakthrough. I got news that quickly brought me to Step 1: Panic. I then jumped right to Step 3 and cried. But instead of heading to Amazon to buy a book and then pilfering through the top of the now-broken fridge in search of stale Easter candy, I did something else entirely.

I thought about God's love for me. I considered God's love for the other person involved. I reflected on my favorite scripture:

I know the plans I have for you. Plans to give you a future, plans to give you hope. 

And I calmed down without benefit of wine or chocolate. Panic subsided.

And then, in an odd, inexplicable twist, the disturbing news I heard turned out to be completely wrong.

We've attended two funeral in a week's time. An older neighbor died after a brief illness, and a young mother died after a long illness. In the face of such grief and loss  -- seeing a ten-year-old girl who no longer has a mother -- well, you can't dwell too long on the broken refrigerator, the computer project, the dented van. Although the daily demands certainly have to be attended to, this is not all there is.

This is not all there is.

It is a daily, hourly, minute by minute challenge to keep our eyes on the prize, the final prize, the eternal prize.

I know the plans I have for you. Plans to give you a future, plans to give you hope. 

1 comment:

Christine Laennec said...

Gosh, your recent news does put all these struggles with machines into perspective. So sorry about the computer malfunction and all the rest of it. As you say it is very hard to keep focussed on the really important things, but this post has helped me to do so. Take care!