In the course of some simple and fun manual labor today, I stopped to chat with a woman who wanted to know where I learned to do what I was doing. After all, it's not every day you see a young woman walking around covered in plumber's gunk.
I looked at her, smiled, and shrugged a little. "I live in an old house with a lot of problems. I come from a long line of strong women. I can do almost anything, and I'm not afraid to try anything."
She smiled and affirmed my answer, and I walked back to where the toilet awaited.
The above statements are true, by the way. I do live in an old house with a lot of problems, which has given me fantastic opportunity to pick up new skills in plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, and the like. Been here 13 years, and by the time I started working construction this past summer, my boss couldn't say enough about my instincts and my skills.
And I do come from a long line of strong women. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother have all encouraged and inspired me to never settle for what the world thinks maybe a woman should be and instead, be able to do for myself. In the midst of all that, remember never to lose the lady within you. I have been blessed and honored to know these women, to live with them and to love with them and to learn from them. Strong, capable, fearless women clothed in graciousness, gentleness, and beauty. I can only hope one day to be that kind of example to my daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter...and whatever other women may be watching. By God's grace, I'm starting to feel like I'm starting to get there. For whatever that's worth.
And I'm not afraid to try. God has given me what I call the gift of tinkering, and I put it to good use. I'm not sure whether it was growing up feeling like I was all by myself in this world or growing up with two older brothers who were experimenters and builders in their own right or just some crazy mix of however it is that I happened to end up here, but it is what it is and I just don't believe in handing a project off to someone else if there's a chance I can figure it out. Like two winters ago when my windshield wipers died, straight-up across my windshield, for no possible reason I could fathom. Switched out the fuse, but it wasn't that; it was the wiper motor itself. The mechanic told me they could fix it for about $450 and even told me that it would really be best, since "we already have the hood up." Don't be all condescending with me. I'm a woman, not an idiot. And as a woman, I already knew that the part - the new wiper motor itself - only cost $40. So I went to the auto parts store and bought one, where the guy behind the counter asked me what I planned on doing with it. I told him, "Well, I'm going to open the box and open the hood of my car, then look for something in my car that looks like whatever I take out of this box, and then I'm going to swap them out." He looked at me incredulously. The look was still on his face about two hours later when I walked back in with the broken one I'd taken out and returned it to him for proper disposal.
Now, I say all that, but I want to say, too, that this gets me in a bit of a pickle sometimes and it's something I'm learning as time goes by to be more cautious about. Having this in me, it's easy to get over-confident and reclusively independent. (And it keeps me single because I'm foolish enough that when a young man about my age saw me struggling at Wal-Mart to throw my new bike in the back of the SUV, he put his bags down and jogged over to help. And I told him, "Nah. I got it." And he persisted, and I was like "Yeah. I'm sure. I got it. Thanks, though." Then I realized he was cute and if I wasn't such a stubborn-headed strong woman, I could have had a moment maybe.) So I insist that I can do it and at the very least, I'm gonna try and I do that for so long that I wake up one day and realize how lonely I am and how I'm so tired of feeling like I have to do it all because there's nobody to help me and really, I've only worked myself into this reclusive independence by my persistent insistence that I can. You see, if I put too much into my willingness to try and God-given ability to tinker, it's easy to lose the grace of the strong women who stand behind me and really, that's the part of them I wish I had more of.
So I guess as always, I'm working on my grace. And I have quite a ways to go with that. In the meantime, I feel good about the plumbing done today. Extending my abilities as an act of service (they weren't my toilets) is something that - not because I'm special or anything, but because it's cool to be in a place you couldn't be without Him - just fills me to overflowing. And as long as I'm not the one mopping it up, I'm just fine with overflowing.