Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learning the Hard way

Last Wednesday my devotion on loving God through gratitude published. On Thursday I wrote here about the intersection between gratitude and faith. Then on Friday I wrote about other benefits of gratitude and how it helps us accomplish things.

Then I got tested on it all.

It so happened that my husband went out of town on Wednesday, for several days. That evening the disposal got clogged. This is the sort of (icky) thing that falls in the realm of his job to deal with. But he wasn't here to fix it and I was bummed about that. (Why does stuff like this happen when he leaves?) I left it over night, woke up Friday and decided to try to fix it myself.

It worked! I thanked God.

Riding high on that success - as well as the fact that I already had dinner fixed in the crock-pot, the Olympics opening ceremony was that night, and we were forcasted for snow - I had a terrific day! One of those happy, efficient, exciting, successful days.

But just before dinner that evening, my washing machine stopped working. Mid-cycle. Full of sudsy water and wet clothes. And Rick wasn't here.

I was tired, hungry and really didn't want to face this. But I knew I couldn't leave it or I'd have a mildew mess.

I checked the breaker switch, it was fine. I pulled the wet clothes out into a laundry basket - water went everywhere. I searched the garage for a shop-vac and extension cord and began sucking up water. Every minute and a half I had to carry the heavy vac out into the cold air and dump the dirty water. My back started hurting after about the 3rd trip.

Then the shop vac started shooting water out the side - turns out I didn't have it clamped back together fully. It made a bigger mess than it was cleaning up.

At this point I sat down and wanted to scream. Or cry. Or quit. Or do all three. (Did I mentioned I was also PMSing?) I was extra frustrated because it had been such a good day up until now. I felt it unfair for this to ruin my good day - as if I would welcome this problem on a day that wasn't going well.

But I knew what I needed to do. I decided to give thanks to God instead of complain. I thanked Him that the broken machine was all I had to deal with. I thanked Him it was the washer and not my central heat that broke. I thanked Him that while this would be an unexpected expense, and Rick wasn't here to help me with it, Rick was gone because he has a job. And that job will pay for this repair.

I got up, called Best Buy where I had bought the washer 5 1/2 years ago - the washer with the 5 year warranty that had just run out - and scheduled a repair man. Then I finished cleaning up the water. Got a hand-truck from the garage and lugged my sopping wet, extra large load of clothes down 3 doors to a neighbor's house who let me use her machine to finish the load. And I sat down to a hot, tasty meal with my kids. Afterwards, we snuggled up under blankets on the couch and watched the Olympics.

It was a good day.

All this back breaking work reminded me how great it is to have a washing machine with running water in my home. No trips to the laundry mat - or worse, to a nearby river to wash by hand. It reminded me that I can deal well with a lot more trouble than I tend to walk around thinking I can. And finally, it reminded me that gratitude is a choice. It's an action. A stance we take, regardless of our circumstances.

And I discovered once again that the beauty in taking that stance is our problems somehow become much more manageable.

Thankful for the lessons I learn through difficulties.


  1. Oh no! You poor thing. It always seems to go that way, doesn't it? When one thing breaks, a hundred other little things follow. Definitely makes you think about how dependent we've become on our modern conveniences (which I, all too often, consider necessities). How did my grandmother manage without a washer and dryer? Not to mention a microwave, toaster oven, cell phone, hair straightener, etc. etc. etc.?

  2. Oh, Rachel, aren't we always tested on what we "preach"? I could totally relate to your ordeal. However, I haven't been so good in responding with thankfulness. Thank you for your example and encouragement as we all walk this journey together.

    By the way, that happened to my washer a couple of years ago. We have a handy-dandy repairman we call when such needs arise. Much to our grateful surprise, a small part only needed to be replaced instead of us having to buy a new washer! I'm thankful for my repairman!

  3. All I can say is "Amen". I don't have anything clever or witty about mildewed bras or underwear. Or your Olympic spirit.
    Just so glad God made you you because you make me happy!

  4. Sometimes I know God is saying to me "I am taking seriously what you say to others about your desire to walk closely to me." Tests. Yup.

    Glad you faired well and snuggled up with your cherubs! :)

    God is faithful!

  5. Jennifer ReneeFebruary 18, 2010

    I thank you for this, friend. My week has gone quite similar. However, my struggles have been with doctor appointments and the problems I've ben having getting things done I need to do. This week I've had to really learn to lean on God because my friend I usually lean on for encouragement is out of town. I'm sad to say that I haven't been very successful in leaning on Him through these frustrating and depressing days.

  6. BEAUTIFUL post, Rachel!! A great reminder to be thankful through it all! :)

    (You had my sympathy, though!! These things always happen here when my hubby is out of town too!)


  7. Thanks for this post. I'm forwarding it to my daughter who tends to see the boulders, not the stepping stones.

    I'm always thankful when I vaccuum that I don't live during the Little House on the Prairie days and have none of the conveniences we take for granted today.

  8. Oh, Rachel! Thank you for that post! Thank you for reminding me of my need to respond to the inconveniences that get thrown my way with a spirit of gratitude. Satan seems to so easily snare me with his net of discouragement!

    Truth be told, I was feeling pretty discouraged about the devotion I entered into your "contest". I couldn't figure out why so many people visited the blog, but why no one left a comment. Once again I was all tangled up in discouragement! And then today I found your sweet comment! For some reason, the place to leave comments was all jumbled up, making it impossible to leave comments!!! A coincidence? I don't think so.

  9. thank you for your example Rachel! Way to take care of it!

  10. Oh, I do like your line of thinking...maybe because I think in the same ways of gratitude. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on gratitude. I think it is critical in our sanity to maintain a heart and mind of praise worthy gratitude.


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