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Lawnmower – My Bitter Foe

July 14, 2011

When the word lawnmower leaves my lips or even shows up in my writing, a variety of reactions occur. Friends hug me, relatives shudder, distant acquaintances exit the room (good grief – not another lawnmower story), and Facebook followers put frowny faces under my updates. If any possibility exists for something to go amiss with a mower, it can and will go wrong with mine. (See “Questions from a Single Heart,” Chapter 2).

A few brave souls have hinted that perhaps I should consider lawn service.

“Never!” I shout. I will conquer this evil enemy. For that is what the lawn mower has become to me, my nemesis – a formidable and, until now, a victorious rival.

A month ago I placed an online order for a new mower; and as I waited for its delivery, I prayed fervently that it would be a good mower, that we’d get along well, that many years from now I would retire it and say, “May she rest in peace; she served me well.”

For some reason, the thought that I should pray for it to be safely delivered never occurred to me. As a result, UPS is still looking for an enormous missing box. Surely though, my previous prayers would cover the replacement mower; alas, but I was wrong.

When I tried to engage the blades of my new and very expensive mower – the engine died. I tried again, oh so carefully; and if I moved slowly enough, I could keep it running.

“Take it back,” I was instructed by those who know how such things should work.

How embarrassing! My neighbors had been excited for me when I rolled the new machine into my driveway. I’d even received emails asking if I was enjoying the new mower. Admitting that I would have to take this one back was mortifying. The probability of actually having luck this bad is pretty slim, and I knew people had to be rolling their eyes and thinking, It’s her for sure. She’s got to be doing something wrong.

Instead, the oddest thing began to happen. Women all over were identifying with my lawnmower problem and making it their own. Stories began to trickle in to my mailbox. “Do you want to hear my lawnmower story, Laura?” and then they’d reveal what reduces them to a messy pile of emotions. Somehow, reading my story made them feel less alone with their own stories of woe – tales that had nothing to do with a lawnmower but everything to do with frustration.

Last night I carefully studied yet another owner’s manual. I added oil and gasoline to the newest member of my family, Little Red. Minutes later as I zoomed around the yard, I felt content. Perhaps I really had won; but just as I was finishing, a splat of water hit the back of my neck. Before I had time to get Little Red rolled into the garage, huge raindrops were soaking my hair and clothes. I ran across the lawn putting things back in place. Was this a sign that the lawnmower curse still followed me?

Then I stood in the door of my garage and watched it pour. My neighbors did the same thing, and we yelled back and forth like people do when something happens to all of us at once. Suddenly I knew the opposite of a curse to be true. It felt great to be alive, to feel water soaking my skin, to taste raindrops in my mouth, to hear the water pounding against the driveway, to smell the scent of water coming in contact with the earth, and best of all to be able to look across the driveway and see other people.

People – I live to interact with people; and right then, I knew my lawnmower problems never had been a curse. They had opened the door for me to interact with women all over the country so they could understand who I was; identify with me; and know that someone else understood their problems – so different from mine and yet so much the same.

Our lives are not our own. All that we do and how we react to our own trials affect other people. Comparing broken, stubborn, and even missing lawnmowers to true tribulation is a stretch at best; yet when I went through all of those events, I knew God actually cared about my weary tears. Each problem we face is an opportunity for us to let God comfort us so that we can in turn reach out to another person.

“Who comforts us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:4

YOUR TURN: I would love to hear your lawnmower story – especially if it doesn’t have a lawnmower in it.

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