When I decided to explore the concept of Grace with this blog, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It’s kind of like asking God to give you patience; such lessons aren’t comfortable.
For example, take the house we purchased last winter — please! I’d always dreamed of owning a house full of grace, comfortable, a safe haven. If not brand new, at least solid and secure. Within three days of signing the contract on our house, the water heater decided not to work. Two plumbers and 3 weeks later, we finally had hot water.
Two months later, I returned home after work on a Thursday and discovered there was a large puddle under the house. Definitely a leak. My husband came home from his out-of-town job and started to troubleshoot.
After some digging and moving foundation blocks for access, he made two discoveries: a large hole in the cast iron drain line from the kitchen sink — did I mention this house is 60 years old? — and a spray leak at a fitting from a previous repair on the hot water supply to the kitchen.
After several trips to various hardware stores over the weekend (150 miles on my car plus a flat tire), the hot water leak was sealed, but the drain line still dripped a little. We don’t have the tools to deal with the cast iron properly, but at least now I can take showers and wash dishes as long as I let things drain slowly.
That’s right: three months have passed, and I still haven’t called the home warranty insurance again for a plumber. I panic at the thought of another search for someone who will show up when he says he will and do what needs to be done. (Yes, I’m chicken.)
Meanwhile, we were waiting on a key for our community mailbox. I applied for it before Thanksgiving, thinking two weeks before move-in would be sufficient. As of 5 pm on the first Friday in January, no one had our key, nor could they tell us when we’d get it. I finally called the main post office (again) the following Monday and, after explaining the whole saga once more, was told it would be done that day. I even got a call from the mechanic a few hours later asking where at the house he should leave the keys!
The keys were there when I got home. I was so excited to go try them that I locked myself out of the house. That meant a call to a lock service, but least I had my phone with me, the weather was nice — and I had my mail keys!
So, where does Grace fit into all of this? To be honest, I’m not sure. I certainly have been less than gracious in dealing with it all, as has my other half.
When we had the flat tire on the way back from one of the many hardware store trips for plumbing supplies, my husband was determined to change it himself. A nice couple stopped and offered to help.
“I’ve got this,” my husband said, politely, but with as little grumble to his tone.
“We really could use the help,” I overruled him. I don’t do that very often, but I knew how much pain he was in after all the crawling under the house.
While the woman and I chatted about stubborn men, her companion, who was at least 20 years younger than my husband, got it changed in no time. They wouldn’t accept anything except thanks and waited until we were on the road without mishap.
“You don’t find many folks like that anymore,” my tired husband commented, wonder in his tone.
I smiled and thought, “No, and not many folks will graciously accept help anymore, either.” But I kept my mouth shut.
Yet, I thought about the couple who stopped. Why? Was there something going on in their lives that was affected by being able to help us?
Human inclination is that “It’s all about me.” I suspect, however, that isn’t the case.
In church circles you often hear “God blessed me” by: giving me green lights on my way to work; a raise; good neighbors, etc. You’ll also hear “He’s putting me through the fire” or “teaching me a lesson” and such when things aren’t so great.
But what if the “lesson” isn’t about me at all? What if my “blessing” is secondary to someone else’s journey?
Life happens — good, bad, indifferent. How we react to it can make a difference in our own lives and those of others.
OK, so I’m not handling the whole house thing very well. I’m impatient and had unrealistic expectations for the process in terms of time, quality, and budget. But we have a roof over our heads, a fenced yard for the dog to run, and more stuff than the two of us really need.
I have good friends who have encouraged and advised us, some even lending their professional expertise. Being willing to accept their input has allowed them to share their gifts. For all I know, there is someone watching this episode who is taking away lessons or blessings or insights to help them on their journey; someone whom I will never know or learn the impact on their life.
That must be where Grace comes in. Whether we see and acknowledge it first-hand or not, there are always people around us affected by our reactions, our words, our silences. People need to know we aren’t perfect (especially ourselves!), but that life goes on, we stumble our way through, and even in the rough patches we can laugh at ourselves, enjoy the sunsets and the good in our lives and others’.