We have a problem toilet in our house. It’s one of those low water energy saving toilets that you have to flush three times to do the job that is supposed to take just one flush to handle. I installed this toilet years ago because, well, it was cheap, and because we were on a conservation kick at the time, it seemed the right thing to do. It’s been a continual source of irritation ever since.
Not long ago this problem toilet taught our family a lesson in thankfulness. The flushing mechanism broke putting it temporarily out of commission. The trauma of being without the use of this toilet far outweighed the little annoyances living with it have caused.
It shouldn’t have been a big issue. After all, we do have another bathroom in the house. But the challenge of adapting to this temporary change in our lifestyle was monumental. Let’s just say it’s hard for the body to adapt to change when nature calls at 3:00 AM in the morning and I have to remember to stumble, bleary eyed, down two flights of stairs to use the basement bathroom rather than travel the four steps to use my own. Who can get back to sleep after suffering that kind of stress?! And pacing back and forth in the hallway waiting for my 15 year old fashion diva to put the finishing touches on her latest “look” before I can use the bathroom is an exercise in family togetherness I can live without.
Needless to say, when we finally installed the $2.00 part needed to restore our commode to full functionality I viewed it with a whole different attitude. It was as if we had driven a new car off the lot. I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel….so to speak. The things that had so annoyed me about it before just really didn’t matter that much anymore.
Sometimes the loss of something we take for granted helps us appreciate the contribution that thing made to our life, doesn’t it? No, I don’t think I will ever appreciate having to flush my toilet three times until it works properly. That will always drive me a little crazy. But there are some things in life we perhaps fail to be as thankful for as we should because we are simply too focused on the things about them that annoy us.
A while ago my wife was reminiscing with her grandmother about the husband she lost to cancer in 1993. Her grandmother said that, ironically, some of the changes that were the hardest to adapt to after he died were things that annoyed her immensely about him when he was alive. They were the typical complaints…toothpaste and shaving cream left in the bathroom sink, socks and underwear strewn on bathroom or bedroom floor, the toilet seat up, and other common male habits. Now that he was gone and the house is empty she said she’d love to see those dirty socks on the floor again. The things that bugged her so much she now speaks of endearingly.
I think if we all look around we can find much in our lives, even among the things that annoy us, for which we can be thankful. We might not have the perfect marriage, the perfect church, the perfect kids, the perfect friends or family but isn’t putting up with their imperfections preferable to living a life without them at all?
We are told in Philippians 4:8 “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.”
I think if we all took this to heart and focused our attention on the things in our lives for which we can be thankful, much of the irritation we experience because of life’s little annoyances would simply be flushed down the drain. (Sorry…I couldn’t resist.)