|(This is NOT my mechanic, BTW.)|
I’ve got maintenance on my mind because my darling little car had to visit the car doc again. Since I’ve only had this car for a few months, and I’m now on a first-name basis with our local mechanic, I’ve been tempted to whine and pout and badmouth my blessing. But just because something needs maintenance doesn’t make it a lemon. Our failure to maintain something, however, can turn into a crisis (like not having brakes, for instance).
By definition, a crisis is “a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, esp. for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.” As writers (and readers) we understand “crisis” to mean the point at which tension is at its height. The word has its origins in the Greek word for decision—it’s the point at which a decision MUST be made.
In a story, crisis is great. It keeps us turning pages (or pushing “next” on our e-readers) far past our bedtimes … just one more page, honey. In day to day life, however, I prefer to keep my crises confined to my fiction, thank you very much.
Some crises are unavoidable. They are the ugly result of living in a world that is tainted by sin and corruption and death. But how many of our personal crises could be prevented through scheduled maintenance?
Rest, nutrition, and exercise are forms of physical and mental maintenance, as are routine check-ups and scheduled immunizations. Planned, purposeful communication and intimacy keeps the bonds of our relationships intact, flexible, and durable. Housework and yard work and uncluttering are part of running a healthy, functional home. Prayer, personal Bible study, and fellowship with other like-minded people is essential to continued spiritual growth and well-being. As I keep reminding my boys, bathing and toenail clipping and the removal of that extra eyebrow are necessary maintenance tasks for happy social lives. Even the mail requires maintenance. Otherwise, bills go unpaid, invitations are missed, and important notices from the IRS… ew. You get the picture.
None of the above are EASY to stay on top of—maintenance does not come to us naturally. Oh, you may have certain maintenance tasks that have become habitual (good for you!), but are there areas of life where you’ve fallen woefully behind? Consider the following:
- If we aren’t willing to do the maintenance, something is wrong with our motivation. We might be too cheap, too lazy, or would just prefer to expend our energies elsewhere. Whatever the reason, we need to figure it out, lest we continue to be caught in that trap of getting, or starting something, failing to maintain it, and having a crisis on our hands.
- Maintenance has a cost, whether it’s money or time or energy. Our willingness to pay that price should be a factor in our decision to buy something, to enter into a relationship, or to take on a new responsibility. For example, I don’t wear acrylic nails, buy dry clean-only clothes, or have platinum blond hair… I’m simply not willing to do the required maintenance to manage those things well.
- Regular maintenance, no matter how boring or pesky or tiresome, is never as costly nor as inconvenient as a crisis. Not only in terms of financial expenditures, but in terms of time wasted, energy lost, and gray hairs earned. As someone has said, “don’t try to build a house in a hurricane.” Waiting until there’s a crisis to perform regular maintenance is the mark of a fool.
- If you aren’t willing to pay someone else to take care of it, you probably won’t be willing to do-it-yourself when the time comes.
God can, and does, work miracles in times of crisis. Even crises we’ve brought upon ourselves. But to continually ask Him to step in with miraculous power because we’ve refused to do our maintenance “homework” is just not right. Maintenance doesn’t earn much respect in our throw-away society, but IMHO, proper maintenance is a sign of wisdom and honor, of being grateful for what we’ve been given. Now to get my motivation in gear!