A Pepper Grinder Post

I have had a great struggle with my toilet and I have won?

I really hope there are no plumbers reading this posting.  I can just imagine them shaking their heads and rolling their eyes and saying, “another idiotic do-it-yourselfer!”  To you plumbers I have the following to say: for years I have shunned most plumbing work, and let professionals do it for me.  If there was something that needed to be done around the house that could be done by sawing, drilling, sanding, nailing, or screwing wood, I was up for it.  But if something involved pipes and water, it made me nervous.  Ever since I got out of working with people with disabilities and into computer stuff, it has been easier to afford the plumbers who charge you $79 just for pulling into your driveway.

Lately, however, a couple of things have changed.  For one thing, since we moved to our current location about seven years ago, we’ve had trouble finding a plumber we liked.  The plumbers we have tried since we moved here seem to range from unfriendly to obnoxious.  I can put up with someone who is obnoxious if it isn’t costing me anything, but to put up with someone’s attitude AND have to shell out $181 to get our toilet fixed is asking a bit much. 

The other thing is that we have some new expenses.  This has made the salary which still seems generous to me (though I think some of my coworkers would not agree) a little tighter.  We have had to find ways to economize.

toilet dismantledSo, when my kids pointed out for the fifth time or so that the toilet in the one bathroom was leaking onto the floor, I knew it was time to do battle.  I started out with Internet research.  At first, I thought the problem was with the wax seal that keeps water from leaking out of the place where your toilet joins the drain pipe in the floor.  After a little poking around, though, I noticed a slight leak where the toilet tank connects to the bottom part of the toilet.  (Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know those two parts are separate—neither did I until recently.) 

Step one was to unfasten the bolts that connect the tank to the bottom.  Unfortunately, these were so badly corroded that I could only loosen one of them.  I had to run out to the hardware store and buy a new tool with some of my Christmas money to cut through the other two bolts.  (Hey, I’m always looking for an excuse to buy a new tool!)  After some exhausting work, even with the help of the new tool, I finally had the tank disconnected from the rest of the toilet.  Then it was back to the hardware store to buy the parts I needed to make the seal between the tank and the toilet bowl.  After some more fighting, I got everything back together, using the new parts.

With trepidation, I turned the water back on.  The tank filled up and I looked nervously around for leaks on the floor.  So far, so good.  After a week of seeing no leaks on the floor, I was ready to claim victory!
There was just one problem.  About once every four minutes, I would hear the water running into the tank.  The water was leaking into the toilet bowl instead of onto the floor.  This was progress, but I knew I hadn’t won.

And so today, I bought a new ball flapper for the toilet tank and prepared to fight again.  After about 20 minutes or so of not-too-strenuous work, I had a toilet with a new ball flapper….which still ran about once every four minutes.  Sigh.

Now I was mad.  I got the tank separated from the toilet again, and I then tightened things up and got it all back together.  Once again, I turned on the water and held my breath while the tank filled.  This was just before I sat down to write this post, and so far, I have seen no water on the floor and haven’t heard the toilet run once.  I know my enemy is wily, so I must stay on my guard.  Perhaps that toilet will find some new way to make my life miserable, but for now, I am cautiously optimistic.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I almost always bring even mundane posts around to some kind of spiritual insight.  What wisdom, you might ask, can be gleaned from toilet repair?

Well, I believe, speaking to men at least, that we are put on earth to do battle.  For most of us, this won’t involve running around with a Claymore or an M-16.  Some of our battles are more mundane.  Aside from my struggles with a commode, I’ve spent a lot of time battling with software this week.

However, there is another battle we are all in.  Paul writes:

storm cloudsFinally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.    Ephesians 6:10-12, NET

Whether we know it or not, there are spiritual forces arrayed against us that would like nothing better than to pull us down into the torment they inhabit, if not for eternity, then at least for this life.  If we don’t acknowledge we are in a battle, we will be allowing the enemy to have his way.  We can’t sit back and ignore the spiritual puddles on our bathroom floors. 

I feel as though I have spent too much time huddling in the trenches, trying to avoid further injury, and trying to distract myself from the pain of past wounds.

Enough!  I want to get back in the fight.  I want to pray to see God at work in my life and in the lives of my family and those around me.  I don’t want to sit back and let the devil have his way.

Lord, help me not to be complacent.  Help me to see the battle, help me to know what to do, and strengthen my hands for war.

I invite you to join me.  Grab a sword … or a pipe wrench.