My husband Ken is a man of many talents and interests, yet he’s something of an enigma. I tease him that when we first met, I thought he was a “city slicker” - smooth, well dressed, tall - a man of presence. To this day, he has a knack for color and can select the perfect tie to rock any suit. His artistic abilities are impressive. He knows his classical composers and, unlike me, enjoys operatic performances. And as to how he continues to win my heart - in the words of a once popular song, he definitely knows “What a Girl Wants”. So how, you might ask, is he an enigma? Well, my otherwise refined mate of nearly thirty years also loves to make regular visits to area scrap yards (that's right - junk yards) to search out and retrieve all manner of interesting items which others have discarded. This is what I've come to discuss.
It wasn’t until after we married that I discovered my husband’s hobby - and not long after that discovery that I came to the conclusion, albeit a premature and wrong-headed one, that I had made a "terrible mistake". For one thing, Ken collected (um… collects) stuff. Lots of stuff. Stuff stuffed in stuff - in garages, basements, and attics all over a tri-county area. I did not know this when I said “I do." I did not know the extent of his car and car part collection. I did not know I would have a Weber carb set-up in my family room as a kind of "Martha Stewart Meets Car Crazy" home interior scheme gone wrong. No, I did not know this about my husband, and for too long I nursed that surprise until it grew from a disappointment in infancy to an adult-sized resentment with a life of its own.
By God’s grace, however, many years (and scrap yard trips) later, I've seen the need to repent of self-focused, ungrateful attitudes that cry out for my husband to be a mirror image of me. My eyes have grown accustomed to the unique light of our marriage, and as they've refocused, I’m seeing things in fresh ways. What a revelation it has been to recognize Ken's motto “Don’t Throw It Out” as an integral part of the way he was created to be an image bearer of the Divine. Huh, you ask? Let me explain.
Ken doesn’t simply roam scrap yards hunting for treasures to haul home. Indeed, he does bring things home, but he does so with an eye to the future. Not content to leave things in their broken estate, he fixes them. Why, the man is a miracle worker! Need a power drill to replace yours with the burned out motor? He’ll find the same model with a broken grip, combine the good parts of both, and voila! a functional drill. Did you see that 40” flat screen TV set out for the trash? Chances are good he can salvage it by replacing the power supply with a $25 part purchased online. Do you need a wrench to reach an oddly-placed fitting? It’s more than likely he has two in stock - bent ones tossed out by a less visionary man who could only see damaged tools. The examples I could give are endless, and the dollars he has saved our family unknowable. But, this is what I do know: like Christ, my husband seeks out once treasured items long ago discarded - not just as an end in themselves, but with restoration and repurposing in mind.
We have a joke around here that Ken likes to say in regard to me - “I just now got her squared away.” He winks, and I smile, but the truth is he's right. Like the castoffs he drags home to restore, he has been used by God throughout the years to restore me. It is humbling to learn that my best efforts at knowing what I needed in life - even in the area of selecting a spouse - were short-sighted and self-serving. And it is also humbling to see God’s kindness and good intentions for me in the restorative nature of my enigma of a husband.
When it's all said and done, Ken points me to Christ, for it is Christ who seeks us out, who brings us home, and who restores us with an eye to the future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11