It’s one of the more painful truths of the Christian life, that suffering often produces the most positive change in us. It makes perfect sense, in the way that the seemingly crazy, backwards, upside down way of the gospel makes sense. It makes sense, in the way that the God Man himself was subjected to suffering and rejection to the ultimate extent, so that we will never be.
Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. There’s no award for who has suffered the most. When I think about it like that, life without a microwave can’t even come close to being placed in that category. It’s a minor annoyance, an inconvenience, at best. But that minor annoyance has been used to teach me, to open my eyes, and prayerfully, to mold me and change me.
It became clear to me, a couple of months ago, that our microwave was acting strange. I would put my coffee in to reheat it, walk down to the basement to start more laundry, then come back to stone cold coffee.
“Huh. Maybe I was in the basement longer than I realized?”
Repeat. Same result. So I put in a container of water and brought it to a boil. Eventually, it did. But then the coffee thing happened again. Then the microwave failed to melt a stick of butter for biscuits. The light was on, the tray was turning, but no one was home.
I managed. I melted butter in a saucepan on the stove. I reheated leftovers in the oven. But I was most annoyed by my inability to enjoy hot coffee as I endlessly bustled about in the mornings.
One late afternoon, about a week or two in the “trial of no microwave,” I texted a couple of friends about mom life. I was struggling with the reality of “never clocking out.” I was angry that my days never really end. My responsibilities never cease. I can sit on the couch after dinner, but the laundry still sitting in the dryer, or on the table calls to me. I walk through the house and see endless piles waiting to be picked up. There are dishes to put away, lunches to pack, dinners to plan, groceries to buy, homework to do, books to return, and no one else seems to care about the PILES as much as I do. And don’t even get me started on the angel baby who hasn’t slept more than 4 hours at a time for almost 13 months now. My work literally never ends.
So I asked my friends, “How do you clock out? How do you decide your work is finished for the day?” They shared some good advice, and as I mulled it all over for a few days (as is my tendency), I realized the large extent to which I bring it on myself. The only one in my house with the expectation of perfection is me.
What on earth does this have to do with my broken microwave?
The broken microwave became an invitation to me to slow down. To wake up early, to a dark and quiet house, and to sit and savor my first cup. To savor the fresh start of a new morning. Not to ignore the to-do list, or the jobs awaiting me, but to fill my tank a bit before I rushed in running on fumes. Then I invited myself to prioritize my tasks. What is really essential? Will the house or the family fall apart if I don’t get to that? Can I delegate some of these jobs out and then be okay with the imperfect results? (Yes, Future Keely, yes you can. Or at least you should.)
Is life without a microwave suffering? No. Is it a trial? Maaaaybe?
Does scripture tell me that trials (of various kinds) test me, and produce patience? Indeed.
Here’s to learning and growing and changing, and hot coffee straight out of the press.