Of Leaking Pipes and Moping Children

“Well, that just shows that you never have time for us.” These are the words out of my son’s mouth.

Him, the little one who is always first in line for a kiss, who hugs bear style, trying to wrestle you to the ground with the fierceness of his affection, him with the bright blue eyes that speak of summer skies and flying, of crystal waters and deep swimming, of adventures and calm juxtaposed in limitless blue, he who utters “love you mama” at the slightest offense on his part, the one I can always count on to take my side, have my back.

And I’m standing in the mud next to a lake in the shadows of dusk, fishing tackle in one hand, dog leash in the other. We’ve spent an hour trying to catch fish, throwing sticks into the water for the dog, exploring the reeds, and just breathing in the chill as evening settles in. We have to go home. It will be dark by the time we get home and the plumber will be waiting. Turns out we have a hot water pipe leaking under the kitchen. Mold and mildew in the cupboards tipped us off something is amiss. I don’t want to miss the plumber.

Yet, this. These words of frustration or trial or just plain mean-hearted sass. I’m blind-sided. Not fair. I want to turn hard, to force recognition of injustice, to call this one out. I want to whine like they do. Not fair.

2:37 AM. I knew I’d be awake. I had fallen asleep readily, but the idea of leaky pipes, mold, sopping insulation, changing a day’s plans, remodeling, no hot water for how long… I knew in advance that at some point these monsters of supposition, of inference, of imagination, of unknown commodities would rear up and strike at my rest. Am I doing enough, disinfecting everything in sight? Are we all going to fall violently ill? How long are we going to be inconvenienced? Who will I have to inconvenience along with me?

I can feel the knots forming around my body. In the shoulders, in the stomach. I’m hot and restless and hubby’s heavy breathing grates. This is not how to spend the night.

Ann’s book comes to mind. Find the gift, because “before the miracle comes the eucharisteo.” 1000 Gifts. Count them.

First thoughts are hard. I want to moan and complain. Maybe a little self-pity here is appropriate. Not unlike my son and his scathing, scarring words, I feel a little put out. If everything that befalls passes through His hands first, has to be approved by Him, then why. Why can’t I be left to do my work, to do my writing, my child-rearing, my wifely duties, my duties as a daughter and as a community member. Why thwart, inconvenience, alter plans?

Petulant, pouting child that I am.

But then the conversation starts. Father God. Please send us a plumber. Please protect us from the mold. The broken record of my mind skips and replays these requests.

Peace like a river? More like a slow warming, like snuggling up in a blanket by a warm fire, bit-by-bit the body responds to the warming trend, to the peace-giving. Remember that time when God gave this? Remember how He is working in that life, in that situation, look back and see the times He showed up. In looking back, I see the promise fulfilled, the peace given, the miracle delivered. Which is why we read the Bible I’m told. To remember. Through the Word, we see the promise fulfilled, the peace given, the miracle delivered… to others, yes, but to us by association, by adoption, by grace. Their stories are our stories. How many times did God’s people say, “Well, this just proves you never have time for us” when in fact the time has been taken, the way paved, the fire quenched, the lion’s mouth closed, the enemy defeated.

With the remembering and the counting comes sleep, peaceful sleep.

And in the morning as I pray again, “Father God, please send us a plumber,” the phone rings. Who calls at 6:45? It’s the plumber. And he’s coming. And no one is inconvenienced.

This will be another gift to remember, to count. With time, I hope, there will be less of the drama and more of the peace, less of the accusation and moping, and more of the rejoicing.