All the handles in our house decided to form some kind of mutiny against us this week.
It started with the dryer when I found a load of clothes still soaking wet an hour after I had started the cycle. After trying again and then assessing the situation, I quickly deemed its solution out of my hands and called in the expert.
Jake handed me a wrench.
A few days later, it was the toilet. Lily called me in because she couldn’t get it to flush. I tried a few times (you know, for good measure) but had already known it was time to get ahold of our plumber.
This time, Jake came armed with a screwdriver.
Both tools are currently enjoying their new, repurposed lives as handles. If you want to start the dryer, clamp the wrench down where the knob should be and turn it right a few clicks. If you want to flush the toilet, just twist the screwdriver to the left.
I suppose it’s probably just a matter of time before you’ll need a pair of pliers to open all the doors and some kind of intricate pulley system to operate the light switches.
I’m not complaining though. Everything still works as though it was never broken in the first place.
Jake and I were friends for a few years before we starting dating. If you ask him why we didn’t get together sooner, I’d be willing to bet somewhere in his response, you would hear him use the word “homebody.”
Apparently I gave him the impression that I wanted to live in Des Moines forever.
(That’s probably because I did.)
I never really imagined my life as anything but familiar. Des Moines made sense to me because it was the only city I had ever really known. And when I got old enough to start imagining a different landscape, I never really did. I loved my hometown. Why rock the boat?
The irony of the whole thing, of course, is that Jake and I lived in Des Moines for the first seven years of our marriage. And furthermore, that Jake actually really liked it.
We cultivated something good there. Sowed seeds into the earth that continue to bloom and grow even from a distance. We learned a lot and loved a lot and reflect often about how purposeful our lives felt there.
And then Cleveland came calling and that familiarity was shattered.
But, in the three years since we rolled into town, we’ve tried to sink our feet into the soil here, too, and, wouldn’t you know, the more you push yourself out into the unknown, the more familiar it becomes.
Cleveland has shaped and changed us in ways that Des Moines never could have. It has stretched me in particular and pushed me out of about a million comfort zones. It has led me to situations I never would have found in Iowa and given me people to challenge my perspectives and shape my thinking.
It has turned me into a version of myself that I never could have predicted.
So, back to the screwdriver that’s sticking out of my toilet.
I’ve been thinking about its purpose lately. Someone made that screwdriver, and I doubt very much that it was marketed as something that was versatile enough to keep your basic plumbing functional.
Screwdrivers insert and remove screws. That’s what they were made to do, and, should they only do that one job faithfully forever, then, well, job well done, little tool. You served your purpose.
And yet, we found a screwdriver that also works perfectly as a toilet handle. We turned its purpose on its head (Phillips head, if you wanted to get specific about it).
Jake and I are staring in the face of another season of transition. There are a lot of unknowns. A lot of conversations about where we should be and even more conversations about where we have come from.
Through those discussions, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my life would look like if we had never left Des Moines. If my plan to live in the same place for my entire life had never been laid bare.
And you know what I decided?
It would have been great. (Maybe that’s not what you were expecting me to say.)
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with digging your roots deep into one place.
Had we stayed in Des Moines, Jake and I would have continued to cultivate the things that were already growing around us. We would have served a worthwhile purpose (you know, turning screws and removing screws), and there would have been a whole lot of good, Kingdom work in that life.
And yet, God turned that purpose on its head a little and brought us to Cleveland.
Almost like He was saying, You’re doing good things where you’re at, but what if we try to utilize your abilities in a way you probably wouldn’t have expected for yourself?
Now, at this point, it’s probably best that I leave the metaphor behind, lest anyone thinks that I’m likening Cleveland to a toilet or something, but I do feel a little like that screwdriver lately. Like my life has been repurposed and reimagined in the last three years in ways I never would have thought of scripting on my own.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter where you are; it just matters what you choose to do with your life once you get there.
I find that, as Jake and I look forward to the future, the unknown doesn’t feel so intimidating anymore and the familiar doesn’t always feel so familiar.
But what I know is that God will keep doing things with our lives that are probably better than anything we could plan anyway.
We just have to be willing to let Him.