I am currently halfway through one of my all time favorite (yet commonly neglected) household tasks known as “cleaning the coffee maker.” There are few things as satisfying in life as seeing all the flaky gunk that gets drawn out of the insides of this machine when I run the coffee pot cleaning solution through its hidden elements. I find myself eagerly lifting the lid after each cleaning cycle, anxious to see how much gunk I dredged out this time, like a dusty old miner crouching by a stream sifting through dirt to find shiny nuggets during the Gold Rush. I am probably the only human on the planet earth who gets *so* excited over old bits of crusty coffee and minerals. I also… might need to get out more.
The reason I am cleaning it this time is less about maintenance and more of a last-ditch effort to save the poor thing. It has faithfully (and magically!) turned ordinary water into liquid gold for us for the last 10 years. We got it as a wedding present one decade ago. That is one thing you never realize when you are a blushing bride, freshly married and opening all those wonderful gifts alongside your groom… all of those lovely & shiny appliances will age, as your marriage does, and 10 years down the road, each appliance will seem to conspire with the others to kick the bucket at the exact same time. It’s a fact! I am convinced that every small electronic THING known to man has a programmable clock inside of it to self destruct when it turns 10. Vacuum cleaners, blenders, crock pots, fondue pots, mixers, and toasters… they will all throw up their hands at the same time and you will contemplate renewing your vows just so you can register at bed, bath & beyond all over again. You begin to hear yourself say things like, “I can’t believe we’ve had this coffee pot for TEN WHOLE YEARS!” Then, you realize that you have also been married for TEN WHOLE YEARS and things are suddenly brought into sharp perspective. Ten years in the span of a life are not completely daunting, but when measured by the life of a coffee pot? Eternity!! That’s 3,650 pots of coffee.
We’ve been married for almost 3,650 pots of coffee.
Technically our anniversary isn’t until November 1st, but this whole year has felt like a mile stone.
Chris will be 32 years old tomorrow. I am 31.
And I swear it was just yesterday when the two of us would limp and stagger to the living rooms of older and wiser couples to receive help and counsel and prayer and guidance through the upside-down backwards maze that was our dating relationship. We would have gotten lost and never made it out if it hadn’t been for those older, wiser couples who took us under their wings and helped us turn things right ways again. And do you know how old those older, wiser couples were who were reaching out to rescue an upside-down love-sick couple like us? They were 32. 33. 31. 35. They were where we are now. Their kids would toddle through the room as we cried and fell apart. I would ride in my dear friend Lee Ann’s minivan to the grocery store and back while she listened to me and prayed for me, picking up dropped sippy cups and passing me kleenex at the same time.
Oh Lord, I feel SO unprepared. I feel so inadequate to step into the well-worn boots of the generation before me. The same well-worn boots that they stepped into before that. And the generation before them stepped into before them. And on and on and on since the beginning of time. There is a definite choice involved here. A definite fight against what’s comfortable and more suited to MY liking. I mean, after all, why bother? Right? I can go on watching my Frasier re-runs at night and snuggling into my couch and pretending like there isn’t an ENTIRE GENERATION floundering in the water all around me- just wondering where all the rescue boats have disappeared to. If I turn the volume up and numb myself down enough, I can completely forget that there is anyone else even OUT there in the world in need of help! How very convenient.
But where would I be if the people around me during that time of my life had chosen to ignore? I shudder to even think of it. I’ve got to step in at some point and start reaching out, reaching down. No matter what our story is or how long we’ve been married or if we’re married at all or if we’ve got ten kids or none, there are ALWAYS younger people who are looking up. And I can’t keep leaving it up to the older and older generations to fill the gap until I feel like I’ve got things “figured out”, because, when exactly is THAT going to be? That’s going to be exactly NEVER, that’s when that is going to be. The need is now.
I am feeling the call. The call to step up and grab the torch being handed down to me. The call to open my eyes and my doors and my heart to those who are where I have been. SO much has changed in me since then. And, inadequate as I may feel, I know I have more than enough to give: A listening ear, a sympathetic heart, a loosened grip on my oh-so-sacred “me time”, an old coffee pot that chugs out warm comfort to offer, and a mouth that can stumble over prayers to a God who HEARS and asks us to lift each other’s burdens up to Him. Ten years ago, I couldn’t lift the burden by myself. I needed help and I found it. And now, it’s my generation’s time to step up to that yoke. But will we? Will I? It feels so daunting… so heavy.
But the yoke is not heavy, because it is God’s! It is always light when it is a yoke that God himself has set before you. HE bears the weight. HE receives the glory. He chooses to use the weak and broken things of the world (two thumbs right at ME!) to confound the strong.
So… even as I am shaking in these well-worn boots, and I don’t understand all of the details, I tie them on. I tie them on and I say, “Here am I, Lord… Send me.”