Sunday, August 8, 2010

Burned out

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” – Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NIV)
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.” – Isaiah 46:4
Another tea kettle bit the dust. That makes three I’ve filled with water, put on the burner, then forgot about. Now this is over a period of years—decades, even. And three is the number of kettles that were rendered unusable, not the number of times I forgot I put water on to boil for a cup of tea.
It’s not that I’m getting senile or forgetful. (OK, so I’m getting a little forgetful.) It’s just that I’m a one-job-at-a-time person. I focus on the task at hand, often to the angst of my husband, who doesn’t understand why I can’t make supper and talk to him at the same time. But I digress. Now what was I talking about? Oh, yes, my tea kettle.
The most recent kettle to suffer the consequences of my single-mindedness was my whistling apple kettle. Bright red and shaped like an apple, it had endured many near burnouts, as well as the effects of hard water. If I didn’t empty the unused hot water, the inside would turn black, which could be removed only by boiling water with baking soda and lemon juice in it—which made a mess on the top of the range when it bubbled over. Good thing the inside was painted black.
The kettle now rests on an old coffee table outside on the redneck porch, a transplanted double impatiens bobbing its dark pink petals out of the top. I recycled the other two ruined kettles, also. The blue one—the one I had to pry from the burner—is used to store tea bags. The white one with the pretty yellow flowers painted on the side holds the big tea bags I use for iced tea.
I recycle my damaged kettles for two reasons: one, because I can’t bear to part with them, and, two, because they remind me that even though something can no longer be used for its primary purpose, it’s not ready for the junk pile.
I often think about the years when the kids were still with us. How did I ever have the energy to do all I did? My life is more sedate now. Not better, just different. I’m in another life season. Are there times I miss the old days? Yes. Are there times I wish I had the energy I had back then? Yes. Are there times I long for that sense of satisfaction that comes with accomplishment? Yes.
Like my kettles, I, too, have been damaged by the fires of everyday use. But old kettles that no longer sing can still be used to store tea bags, hold flowers—or remind me that even when I think I’m too burned out to be useful, God has another job for me to do.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Thank you, Lord, that I can still be used of You no matter what shape I’m in. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 90

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