Whew! What a title! But here is my question for you: What do record snowfalls, blocked drains, and cleaning out a fish tank have to do with marriage? I’m about to tell you!
This past weekend we marveled at the large amount of snow that fell. Today is April 16th. April 16! And we had a blizzard! On Friday the weather forecasters were saying 6-12 inches. After the second time of shoveling my husband groaned that it felt more like 18 inches. And the snow kept coming. I’m not sure the actual snow accumulation of this past weekend, but the birds started singing again this morning and the squirrels and bunnies were out prancing through the snow while the sun cheerfully came from behind the gloomy skies of yesterday.
To make the weekend even more eventful our kitchen sink drain backed up. This too made my husband groan. Around Friday evening it was draining slowly. He commented he’d have to clean the trap. Sunday morning (no church due to weather) while he cleared snow again, I made cinnamon roll biscuits, a nice treat to welcome him back inside. But as I washed the dishes the sink filled higher and higher. Uh oh! I gave him the delicious breakfast treat and told him I hated to give him the news but the drain was very slow. VERY SLOW! He said he was beat and he’d deal with it the next day. But by that night, the slow draining turned into complete blockage. Gross!
Monday morning we awoke and snow had stopped, but the blowing had pushed snow into the driveway again and plows had filled in the end of the driveway. Our double kitchen sinks were both half-full of nasty water. And I received the unexpected and welcome news than my work was cancelling the daily routes due to the weather. Knowing my husband’s back was sore, and he was beat from a weekend fighting weather, I suggested I help him shovel. He said no need to get my back sore too! He looked at the sinks and told me they’d have to be drained with a bucket and a sponge. He went out to shovel telling me that he’d deal with that later.
I grabbed a bucket, a sponge, and a plastic cup. I can help you, I said. So while he was out shoveling, I was cupful by cupful emptying nasty water into a bucket, toting the bucket to another sink, and cleaning out the sink. That was a slow process! But as I dipped that cup into the water, I was reminded of a similar chore at a different time in my life.
Our house flooded when I was in junior high. We packed up belongings as high as possible, we took some stuff, we moved into a small apartment for the summer. Before the apartment was ready, we’d all gone to different houses. Our dog had go to a shelter for a short time while we were all split up, and boy was that hard! Our dog had never been to a kennel of any kind! But we left behind our fish in the tank. I’m sorry fish! I honestly didn’t think a whit about them. My dog on the other hand, that was a different story! So one day when we are cleaning in our home, my dad gave my sister and I the nasty chore of cleaning out the fish tank. You can use your imagination I’m sure. The electricity had been off, the poor fish had therefore frozen, and the tank of water and fish had sat for at least a month before we got around to cleaning it. Talk about gross!
My sister and I put masks over our nose (it stunk!!) and went about it (perhaps not very cheerfully). We were about half way into it when one of us (I’ll give her credit) made up a silly little song about cleaning a nasty fish tank out. We sang that little song over and over, until the task was done! And we smiled at the silliness of the song and the looks of us with masks on, and the disgusting job we had been given.
Today, I’m thankful for that nasty task. The cleaning of the sink wasn’t half as gross, or tedious! While I worked today, I listened to my husband work outside. He consistently pushed the shovel back and forth; I consistently dipped the cup in and out. I thought while I worked. I remembered the disgusting fish tank. I remembered the singing and how it helped my mood.
So this morning as I worked I thanked God for unpleasant tasks. Unpleasant tasks that come around so rarely are great reminders of how good we actually have it! I have indoor plumbing and sinks that I normally give little thought about. I have a husband who does the brunt of all the outside (heavy) work. And I thought also of the blog post I’d read recently. I really appreciate this author’s work. She was talking about the ideals of marriage verses the reality of marriage. She notes that “the monsters of suffering and difficulty are the friends you must learn to love.”
Hmm…. love. I’ve been pondering love a bit lately. Agape love is God’s unconditional, unselfish, wanting the best for the other type of love. It’s the opposite of the selfishness that can happen in a marriage. When my husband and I gladly help each other with some of the unpleasant tasks, when we give up our desires for the other’s best at the moment, when we tackle life together in all the moments of difficulties — it’s in those times that we love each other best. When my husband thanks me for helping him with cleaning out the sink, or I appreciate the hard work he put in to keep the driveway ready for me to drive out without doing any work myself, then I know that we are learning the secret to lasting love. We are learning that romance and passion can not carry a marriage. But suffering and working together and laying down self for the sake of the other go a long way to make me a happy wife and him a happy husband!