Who knew a few potato trimmings could cause such trauma in the kitchen! The day of rest turned into the day of the big mess with just a flick of the disposal switch. With chicken gravy on the stove and the taters my daughter had cleaned and seasoned baking in the oven, Sunday dinner looked like it was going to be a great success. I glanced into the sink as I passed by and noticed a few potato trimmings way down in the disposal. “Oh, it doesn’t look like there’s much there. I bet it will go down the drain just fine,” I said to myself as I flipped the disposal switch. I had an immediate second thought about my decision, but it was too late. Within seconds I knew I had created a giant problem. “Why oh why hadn’t I just reached down and pulled those scraps out and put them into the trash?”
My husband walked through the kitchen just as water with hundreds of little tiny potato peelings began welling up on one side of the double sink. The memory of the Sunday I put brown rice down the drain came to my mind. My husband just shook his head. He was silent, but “here we go again” was written all over his face. “Don’t you worry!” I assured him and invited him to leave the kitchen. I grabbed the plunger, ran the water and the disposal and plunged for all I was worth. Nothing! “Maybe if I just let it sit for a while something will break through,” I thought as I worked toward dinner. I could see that I was getting nowhere.
Eventually my husband and my son-in-law got into it. We did all the things people do. We ran more and more water. We ran the disposal again and again and of course, we plunged and plunged. We stopped up the disposal side of the sink to create some resistance and plunged and plunged some more. Nothing!
We used a pail and got all the water out of the sink, disinfected the area around the sink and sat down to Sunday dinner. We took a short break and for thirty minutes and we all pretended there was no problem. I sat and visited and ate and hoped that something miraculous was going on down in those pipes.
I won’t bore you or disgust you with all the details of the next two days. Suffice it to say that today our sink works. No small thing. One husband, one son-in-law, one neighbor, two plumbers and a lot of money later, the water flows freely.
I’ve learned a thing or two about our plumbing. A little disposal worth of potato peals can a very large mess make if those peals are trying to get down a small already mucked up pipe. The plumber says that once a month we should fill the sink with water, turn on the disposal and run water through the line to keep the pipes cleaned out!
This little experience with a plugged up pipe in the house made me think of the brilliance of Steps 4-10. I am like that pipe! Many of us come to apply the 12 Steps because in some aspect of our lives we are stuck. We can’t move forward and it isn’t for lack of trying. We are aware of many of our imperfections. Most of us have done some confessing. We’ve told God we wish we were making greater progress. We’ve said we were sorry and asked for forgiveness on several occasions, and we try not to go to bed angry. But we are still stuck.
When I first read through the 12 Steps I thought to myself, “Well, I kind of like the first three and the last three, but I’m not doing the ones in the middle. The following are the Gospel principles represented by the middle Steps:
Step 4 “Truth”
Step 5 “Confession”
Step 6 “Change of heart”
Step 7 “Humility”
Step 8 “Seeking forgiveness”
Step 9 “Restitution and Reconciliation”
Step 10 “Daily Accountability”
Today I see that not being willing to take those steps thoroughly and dabbling about with repentance is like using a plunger on a plugged up drain that is ultimately going to require a fifty-foot plumbing snake and daily maintenance.
The fellow that unplugged the sink was finally able to get to the root of the problem. Tuesday morning I woke up to a sink where the water could run freely, something I won’t take for granted again.
That’s the purpose of Steps 4-10 too. As I do the work required I discover a kind of water that runs more freely in me too. It’s the “Living Water”, the life changing water the Lord promised to that ancient “Woman at the Well” in John 4:10.
Now I truly don’t mean to offend by comparing our emotional and spiritual inner workings to the plumbing in my house. I know it’s not a very pretty picture, but it’s a picture the Spirit used to get my attention.
As it turns out, the potato peels were not the real culprit. The real problem was a pipe with years and years of build up that had to be cleaned out. It’s the same with our personal cleansing. Eventually, if we want to get unstuck we have to surrender to the process that promises to clean out the years and years of accumulation and free us to move forward.
By Nannette W.
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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