Our dryer was in a thousand pieces scattered across the laundry room floor, and I had a huge lump on the back of my head the size of grapefruit. Yes, I am ashamed to report these two seemingly unconnected things were very much related. It all began a few days ago when our dryer began making noises that no appliance should ever make. It sounded like a coal train leaving the station, and laying down rails through the middle of our house. With a little investigation I discovered our faithful Kenmore had a bad drum wheel. It was a simple $10 repair if I did it myself, but it would be much more if I called a serviceperson.
Money, short as it is for everyone, I elected to fix the dryer myself – or at least attempt to fix it – and to do so posthaste, as there was no time to squander. Just a couple of days without the ability to wash and dry clothes, around our house with three growing boys, is nothing short of a disaster. A hazardous material team would have to come in to clean up the fallout.
So with dirty laundry and little boys’ underwear quickly piling to the rafters, I picked up the part, removed a couple of screws, and went to work. And you guessed it: Once the work began, it was much more than I had bargained for. In addition to a bad drum wheel, there was a rotting dryer belt, loose wires, and years of dust and debris had collected inside. Once opened, the dryer contained loose coins, lost socks, pencils, bouncy balls, and about ten pounds of candy wrappers – all of these chocking up the works.
To make matters worse, my skillful hands dropped a screwdriver down the hole that held the lint filter. Now, I had to disassemble the entire infernal machine to retrieve it, and in the process, yes, the top lid fell on my head knocking me nearly unconscious. So much for a simple $10 repair.
Through it all, and a hundred other such catastrophic home repairs over the years, my wonderful wife assisted me. Not at first, mind you. She usually lets me get into trouble before coming to my aid, a wise practice to avoid blame I think. But she always shows up when I need her most. The dryer was no exception. She handed me tools, held the flashlight, and turned the wrenches herself. She praised me when I succeeded and scolded me when I swore. And she was quick to provide band-aids, Advil, and icepacks when these were needed. That’s how love works.
See, life is filled with disastrous repair work. We start out and everything is so simple, so easy to solve, and so uncomplicated – no assistance required. And then we learn otherwise. There is dust, muck, the failure of good planning and good intentions, dirty laundry stacking to the roofline, and smacks on top of the head.
We end up sitting in the floor, more than a bit dazed, with curses and prayers mingled together on our lips, trying to put the pieces back together, cleaning up the messes of others and the messes we have made ourselves. Such is life, and it is a good thing – a very good thing – to live this life with those you love and those who love you.
Love empowers and enables us to do the hard and heavy lifting of life. Love helps turn the wrenches. Love sits with us in the clutter of living and lends a hand. Love comes bearing the gifts of bandages and pain-relief. Love bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.
My wife is famous for saying, “Love doesn’t fix things.” And she is right. All the love in the world couldn’t put our dryer back together, or miraculously stitch up a busted noggin, or wipe the floor clean of years of dust and grime. But love can make these things much more bearable, because love doesn’t change “things,” love changes us.