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Water, Water Everywhere

And nary a moment to think. How would my husband handle my latest remodeling disaster?

"Marsha," my husband, Tom, said, "you've ruined every place we've ever lived, and I'm tired of it."

"I think 'ruin' is a bit strong," I said.

"You don't call 72 nail holes in three walls of our first apartment ruining?"

"No, I call it trying to hang 14 large pictures."

"It took me four hours to patch all the holes."

"That's what security deposits are for."

"I've never forfeited a security deposit," Tom said. Was he trying to impress me?

"Really?" I said, "That's odd. I've never gotten one back."

Tom sighed. "And the second place we lived?" he said. "Where you ruined the garage?"

I tried to explain that I didn't ruin it; I tried to remodel it. But Tom wouldn't listen.

I've always had a secret desire to be a carpenter. I was just trying out my craft. Never mind we had to pay a professional carpenter $700 to fix my "remodeling" job.

"I had asked you specifically not to ruin that place," Tom said.

"That's why I stayed in the garage!" I explained. "You specifically said, 'Don't ruin this home.' You didn't say I couldn't work in the garage."

Tom continued his diatribe: "It wouldn't be so bad, except we've only been in this new condo for a day and you're already starting to ruin it."

I cringed as I thought about the bedroom closet. Tom had tried to hang his coat and the entire rack fell to the floor—with all his shirts and suits.

"I was just trying out my new electric tools," I said. "I wanted to reorganize the shelves and racks."

"And the kitchen?" he asked, opening the pantry door and pointing to the shelf where my new SawsAll 850 Power Plus had gotten away from me. It looked like a shark took a bite out of it.

"See this shelf?" Tom said, more irritated now that we were both looking at the damage. "It's not fixable."

"It was the SawsAll," I said. "I couldn't hold onto it." And then, trying to put it in perspective, I pointed out, "It says 'saws all,' it doesn't say, 'saws pretty.'"

Tom took a deep breath. "Marsha, I'm tired of this. We're now in the nicest place we've ever lived, and I don't want you to ruin it—anymore. I'm telling you right now, you're not a carpenter.

And I don't want you to practice becoming one—not on our home, not our garage, not our closets, not our kitchen, not even our pantries. I don't want you to use power tools. I don't want you to remodel. I don't even want you to walk through the Sears tool department without me there. Do you understand?"

I nodded my agreement and then promised I would not remodel the condo anymore.

Uh oh. Trouble

The next day, after Tom went to work, the builders showed up to do the final inspection. Since they hadn't checked the whirlpool in the master bathroom, they asked me to turn on the water and fill the tub so they could check to make sure the jets worked properly.

So I went upstairs, turned on the water, and sat by the tub to make sure it didn't overflow. It seemed to be taking forever.

Then the phone rang—and because we were still new to the place, the only phone we had was downstairs in the kitchen. So I ran downstairs, fully intending to be gone only a minute.

It was a friend who'd been in an accident. Her van had been hit broadside, and her neck was broken. While she wasn't paralyzed, she was in the hospital and was giving me all the details. I was fascinated with her story—until I heard the strangest sound, like water splashing on the tiles around our fireplace.

When it grew louder, I walked to the kitchen door and glanced toward the living room. Water was pouring out of the recessed lights above the fireplace and cascading down our stairwell.

"I've flooded the place!" I yelled into the phone. "I've got to go."

I knew I was doomed. There's only so much a husband can take.

I wanted to run away rather than have to tell Tom, "Hey, you know the holes in the wall? Well, that's nothing!"

I waded quickly upstairs and turned off the water, then headed downstairs to find the builder ripping up our brand new drenched carpet and knocking holes in our ceiling to get out all the water. He was yelling for his workmen to bring buckets and for me to get my insurance people out here now.

"Call your husband," he said.

"Oh, I don't think so," I said. "I can't—really."

"You'd better get him on the phone. We need some answers here."

'What's wrong, Honey?'

And so—on what I'd come to accept as the last day of my married life—with trembling hands, I dialed my husband. His secretary answered and told me he was in a meeting.

"You need to get him out," I said. "This is important."

In the background I'm sure she could hear the pandemonium, and I started to cry. I cried so hard that when Tom got on the phone I couldn't talk.

"What's wrong, Honey?"

I thought, You're saying Honey now, but wait till you hear.

"I can't tell you," I said.

"Marsha, I'm in a meeting. What's wrong?"

The men in the background were getting louder—shouting to each other to bring buckets, and starting up the ShopVac.

"What's that noise?" Tom asked.

"Oh, just, um. Honey, uh, I flooded the place," I said, then started to cry again.


"I flooded the place," I said.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I flooded the place." I told him the whole story, starting with the builders and ending with the fact that they were now tearing up our carpet to hang over the balcony to dry.

Tom paused for a long time, then quietly said, "Do you need me to come home and comfort you?"

Now it was my turn to be in shock.

"What?" I said.

"Do you need me to come home and comfort you? Are you gonna be okay?"

In that moment I learned the shocking truth of grace. Grace is what we give someone who's just trashed what we value.

When Tom came home that evening, he took me in his arms and told me how much he loved me.

It's been 12 years since I flooded our condo. Every time I tell this story, people are amazed at the grace my husband offered.

Because of Tom's response, I now understand how God responds to my blunders—with a comfort filled with the finest down from above.

Adapted from 101 Amazing Things About God. ©2002 by Marsha Marks. Used by permission of Marsha Marks. Visit Marsha at www.marshamarks.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Conflict; Difficulties; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Spring, 2004
Posted September 12, 2008

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