Home appliances remind us to show grace and invest in not-so-easy relationships

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Of all my home appliances, my dryer seems to be the most emotionally needy.

It does the job, sort of, but not without complaint. Its buzzer-like alarm tells me when it is 10 minutes and five minutes from completing its drying cycle as if begging for recognition. It often eats one half of a pair of socks. The settings button is broken. It came to us with an electrical short which causes the light bulb in the tumbler to expire after only a week's use, which means we have to retrieve our often partially dried clothes from its darkened maw. Also, it moans loudly when it feels overloaded.

"The washing machine had no trouble with this large a load," I protest. The dryer's reply - the silent treatment.

My refrigerator hums along with only the occasional blip in ice-making. The dishwasher is diligent in its duties and the oven, well, it's my star appliance.

We're stuck together, my dryer and me, united together by our disdain of wet clothes. Sometimes it feels like that's all we have in common.

Installed in our church culture and in our church families are those fixtures that seem like low-functioning, highly irritating appliances. They are the complainers, the be-moaners, and, aside from our commonly held beliefs, we feel they serve no edifying purpose to our faith journey. Or do they?

If God has a purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) then it's my responsibility to seek out his plan for everything and every person I encounter. If God wants me to build up my fellow believer (1 Thess. 5:11) then I must be willing to carry their burdens (Galatians 6:2). This means I've got to pray and encourage those believers around me who do more complaining as a believer than functioning as one.

It is easy to love those without off-putting quirks, but it's not what God wants for a family of believers. God doesn't want me to avoid those relationships; He wants me to pursue strengthening them. It may be difficult - that person may have quirks and idiosyncrasies that grate on your nerves. However, you do have one, tremendous thing in common. You both claim God's grace, and that factor is enough to unify even those most opposed personalities.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (I Peter 4:10, ESV)

I don't expect that my relationship with my dryer will improve, but I do have hope that the grace shown to me by my Heavenly Father will compel me to invest in relationships with those around me.

Email Jamie H. Wilson at faithmatterssumter@gmail.com.