When we were kids, my brother “D” would take things apart and attempt to put them back together again. There was never anything wrong with the radio, the television, remote control toys or the electric shaver. He did it because he was curious and because in some odd way he thought he could improve it.
My brother and I are very different in many ways but this is one of the many defects in my personality that sets us completely apart: I live by the philosophy, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
My brother is mechanically inclined and I’m grateful for that because whenever I need something fixed in the house I give him a call. If he has the time, he will graciously volunteer his time and talents to assist his mechanically inept brother. Otherwise, we suffer through a broken ‘something-or-other’ until we can afford to get it fixed.
My brother was my crutch.
I reluctantly and shamefully admit that in our house, my wife is not only Super Mom, she’s also Mrs. Fixer-Upper. I would say that she married me for my looks and my smarts, not for my prowess with a saw or a hammer but even then I’m off the mark. She is going to have to tell you why she agreed to marry me because honestly, I still don’t know why.
I still get cranky when she wants to repair a fence, fix a light fixture or replace a window because I’m uncomfortable doing things where I have little or no knowledge. I’m also uneasy doing a job that I’ve never done before because I want to make sure that it’s done the right way the first time. Super Mom has lived with me long enough now that when she wants to paint or rearrange a room, she just starts it and I hop in to help her out because she knows that I won’t sit back and let her do the work alone. In the process I find that I’ve learned and I have overcome my initial reservations.
So you can imagine what my first reaction would have been when Super Mom and her dad started knocking down walls and pulling out plumbing last week. We had discussed re-doing two of our bathrooms upstairs but I did not know that it was going to happen so soon. My immediate response was, ‘What on earth are we doing? I’m not ready for all this…change.’ I was upset, but I deffered to Super Mom, knowing that in the end, she had a pretty good idea what she was doing. Besides, I had more pressing things in my life that required my undivided attention. But I kept going back to that familiar motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
My logic in this case was invalid when you take into consideration that there were in fact things that were ‘broken’ in both bathrooms that were demolished and there were things that really needed improvement since the house was built 30-something years ago. There are in fact, things that needed to be fixed but I just didn’t want to be bothered by the mess, the work and the headaches.
However, now that it’s started, I know that the new bathroom is going to be awesome. The new bathroom will be more functional, up-to-date and it will enhance our living situation, especially for our boys who have been dealing with faulty showers, clogged toilets and leaking faucets.
This weekend the exercise of demolishing our bathrooms gave me a spiritual and personal perspective. How often in my life have I walked away from problems simply because I didn’t know how to fix it or improve the process? How often have I said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” knowing that I was just floating through life, comfortable with the current state of affairs and unaware that there were things that I could do to make my job, my marriage and my relationships with others better?
At my father’s funeral services last week, so many people mentioned how humble, soft-spoken and nurturing dad was in his approach. They spoke of his selfless sacrifices to help others in need and of his love for us, his children and his grandchildren. He was not perfect, but he sure strived for perfection.
I think there are many things in my own life that require a bit more humility and a higher attention to selfless sacrifice. I know that a big part of my inability and reluctance to tear down and rebuild things, to analyze and improve life situations stems from my stubbornness and pride.
I want to be more like my brother “D” – inquisitive, investigative and mending. I want to be more like Super Mom – challenging, innovative and effective. I want to be more like my dad – humble, respectful and attentive. I want to be a better man in every aspect of my life; sometimes this requires recognizing things that appear to be in working order but need a little bit of ‘fixin’. Ultimately it is breaking down and rebuilding that makes us better people. Time for a life remodel.