After 32 years of marriage, Jon and I moved into a home which would contain the first dishwasher we'd ever had. I was ecstatic. It took awhile to fill with enough dirty dishes to finally press that "on" button, but once I did, I smiled and sighed. Oh, the time this was going to save!
And it did. The first time I unloaded it, however, I discovered the odd fork or utensil stubbornly clinging to some tidbit. Oh, I thought. I guess I should rinse things off a little first.
Over the course of the next year, I grew increasingly disappointed with the dishwasher. Nobody had told me how much they miss. Because the regression was so gradual, though, I didn't realize the problem was getting worse. I just kept picking out more dirty dishes to hand wash. I tried different kinds of detergents, which sometimes helped for a while. The dishwasher was no longer saving me much time, and I began to wonder why I'd been wanting one all my life. Then came the biggest dirty dish day of the year.
Too bad no one had the presence of mind to grab a camera. There we were, Christmas Day. My husband, my daughter-in-law, and I alternating places as we inspected the interior of the dishwasher, our butts sticking out into the middle of the kitchen, random appliance parts and tools strewn among the turkey, potatoes, and gravy pots. We rinsed and scrubbed and unplugged holes, then reassembled it. We optimistically loaded all the Christmas dinner dishes into it, pushed the start button, and drove off to the Island of Lights.
I was apprehensive to open it when we returned home, and for good reason. I spent the rest of the evening re-washing everything by hand. Our efforts had made a barely discernible difference. I called a repair guy and hand washed dishes for the next ten days while we waited. He knew how to take the thing apart properly and clean out the muck. He explained this was becoming an increasing problem since phosphates have been banned from detergents, and left us with a cleaning solution to use monthly.
The next time I used the Maytag, I could hardly believe it. So THIS is how a dishwasher is supposed to work! Not only was everything clean, it was shiny! Oh, what I had been missing.
The parallels to life are staggering. Whether it's the marriage, other relationships, or our spirituality: things can become so clogged we don't even realize it's not working the way it was intended to work. So we settle, frustrated but accepting it as a fact of life. The wrongs of this life, both the kind we commit and the kind done against us, work together to mess things up. It happens so gradually we don't notice how bad it has become. We hesitate to call in an expert because we don't want to pay the price or swallow our pride. We tinker with it ourselves, make half-hearted attempts to clean things up. We might make small measures of progress, but deep down we wonder why life is so despairingly disappointing.
We all desperately need a Repair Man.
Your Creator knows you and how to get at the gunk of your life. He has solutions for regular maintenance. He inspired a manual you can read for yourself. He has the power to make you what you were intended to be, to make you say "So THAT's how it's supposed to work!"
The other option is to go through life wondering what that might be, forever doing the metaphorical dishes by hand.