At the end of my rope…but…

(Sorry this is uncharacteristically long.  I need to tell you all the details.)

There’s only been a few times in my life when I’ve felt as though I was at the end of my rope. Once was certain a summer back in the mid-nineties. That one was about money. God spoke to me through a whistle…a song. It’s seared in my memory. God was beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt-faithful to me in that moment.

And then there are the home improvement projects.  Putting in the basement windows that I custom ordered too small was a very frustrating experience.  Just when I thought I had it in and straight something would happen.  Over and over and over.  Every bad word I knew was on repeat in my mind.  It eventually got done.  Thankfully.

So I decided to replace the shower plumbing yesterday.  We’ve been planning it for over a year, more-or-less.  I took some time off from work and planned to git-r-done.

It’s not like I didn’t know how to sweat copper pipes.  I had done it before…when I was a teenager.  The stakes are higher now.  We have one bathroom in our house.  If I screw it up, then there’s no water until it’s fixed.

I got the old valve and pipes out.

No turning back now.

Got the new valve and pipes soldered in place.  Whoops.  The stems are too short.  Out comes the reciprocating saw and a dust cloud unfurls.   There we go.  That’ll work.

Let’s turn on the water.

Turns out I’m not so great at sweating copper pipes.  A small leak and then an all-too-familiar deluge into the basement later, I’m heading back to Home Depot to get some more pipe parts to re-solder.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

10:30 pm comes around.  Still not right.

Rachel was just what I needed, as usual.  Encouraging and offering her a vote of confidence in my mad skills.

It’s not going to get fixed tonight.

Failure.

No water, toilets, or shower until I can get it all working.

I can’t take any more.  I have to get some rest.

I don’t think I slept more than two hours. Tossing and turning, worrying if I have what it takes or if I’ll have to make an emergency call to the plumber and try to explain to him my plumbing ineptitude.  It was just too much.

I woke up confident I’ve dug myself into a hole from which I cannot get out.

Another trip to Home Depot.  And frustratingly, another.

Then something happened en route.  God stepped into my hair-on-fire mess of anxiety and worry to remind me of just how big He is.

“Remember that whistling a while back?”

That was all I needed.

(cue tears and crying)

OK.  Gotcha.  You’re going to take care of me.  You can handle it.  Got it.

Back from Home Depot.  I meticulously prepared all of the pipes for soldering.  I watched a couple more Youtube videos on how to sweat pipes.  I gave it my best.  Again.

All right.  Go time.

Drip, drip, drip.  Sigh.

I just sat there.  Thinking about how I’m going to have to tear all of this out again and then what?

There could be no more mistakes.  I had cut off the pipes in all the ways I could.  Now the configuration was such that I couldn’t undo anything again — that is unless I made the project larger.

That’s not going to cut it.

Back to Home Depot.

I remember.  You will take care of me.

(And by the way, I wasn’t all that goody-two-shoes happy knowing that God just told me an hour-and-a-half earlier that He was going to take care of me again.)

I couldn’t see how this was not going to turn into a bigger mess than it already was.

So I get to Home Depot and pick up the same parts I’ve gotten in the prior 4 (+/-) trips.

I see a Home Depot guy.  He was helping some other people.  When he finished up I approached and puked out my whole story to him.  I showed him a picture on my phone of what I was up against.  I had to explain it a couple of times because he didn’t seem like he was understanding what I was saying.  I was so dang tired I’m sure I wasn’t even coherent.

He pointed out a few parts here and there and I thought to myself, “There was no way I was going to try that again.”

Then I asked him.  “Hey, is there any way I can do this without copper pipe.”

“Oh, sure.”

What?

“You need this and this and this and this.  You should be done in 30 minutes.  Here’s how you do it.  These things are pretty slick.  Makes things real easy.”

Excuse me?

I could not believe what I was hearing.

I wanted to hug the guy.

Being the manly man I am, I teared up.

I hope I expressed my thanks to him succinctly enough.   I hope he somehow knew how blessed he was to have God use him.

He was an instrument in the hands of the Creator, who at just the right moment, bailed out that idiot, Adam, who’s always getting himself in trouble.

It took a little longer than 30 minutes, but, my, that shower I just took was amazing.

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