I remember when I was in college and something was going on with the room that made me have to ask the R.A. for a form to fill out to attempt to get it fixed. I recall looking at the spelling of the word "maintenance" on the form and thought that it was weird...shouldn't it be spelled "maintainance"? I thought "ah, instead of 'ai'- it is 'en' - as in 'men'" because quite frankly, men seem to have a stronger capacity for maintenance than most women. In the traditional sense anyway.
I'm sure that there are female mechanics, but I can't recall ever seeing one. Likewise with copier repairmen, apartment supers, or cable installers. I'm sure that they are out there, but I just associate maintenance as somehow belonging to the domain of males.
That and bug/rodent/snake killing. Unless, of course, I am all that stands between it and my babies. Heaven help it if it is.
Lately, I have started thinking of maintenance in a different light. Where I used to think of it as "fixing things" that were broken, I've started thinking of it in terms of the time required for me to own something. Anything. Where I once thought how awesome it would be to have a pool...I now think of how much time, energy and money it takes to maintain it.
And I understand why people fill in their pools and never feel a pang of regret. I'm just not quite there yet...even though we are going to have to entertain people this week coming by to give us a quote on a new pool liner.
Yeah, a pool liner that is going to cost us the value of at least four of the seven vehicles that we currently own. (Don't judge...I know how "white trash" that above statement reads. We drive vehicles until the wheels fall off...literally. We're selling one of the vehicles and giving another away. We're keeping the Miata for fun. So, we will be down to five in no time.)
I've been examining everything in my life from the possessions I own to the relationships I have. Any things requiring extra maintenance beyond what I can reasonably offer, are going on eBay, being carted off to Goodwill or given to someone else to use. I cannot continue to hold on to things that don't make me giddy with happiness or that are worth it to me in some other way.
This "I might need it someday" mentality only means that I don't trust that God will provide what I need when I need it. That lack of trust is cluttering my house and keeping people that actually need it from having it. Frankly, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. We aren't paying a monthly storage fee to store stuff. So many people that I know are.
With regard to relationships, though, you do have to do regular maintenance. I have friends that I rarely see, but will always be happy to have an opportunity for us to cross paths. We have shared history, and they will always have a special place in my life as a result of that acquaintance. I suppose that's why I am so grateful for Facebook...because I have been able to catch up with people who I cannot see often due to geography or other dynamics...but I am always happy to check in with regularly. Other friends have such a constant presence in our lives that we can go a week or two (or more) without talking to them and it doesn't diminish the relationship in any way. We have traditions, private jokes, and are through wondering whether our friendship will pass the test of time...because it already has.
Then there are those friendships that are based on finding another person who has something to teach us or whose presence in our lives makes our so much richer. These do take maintenance...but the experience is worth it. You just can't have an abundance of these friends without making some sacrifice of time and energy...because they require maintenance.
So do marriages. Those of you who babysit, help plan, and make "date nights" and special occasions even more special for your friends so that they can do regular maintenance on these relationships...you are doing far more than you know.
I don't know how you feel about maintenance...but for me...it is all about making sure that I keep the amount of "stuff" that I have in my environment as simple as possible. Yes, I want to be a good steward of what I have been blessed with, but I also don't want to waste hours of my life dusting, cleaning, changing out, or whatever on things that simply aren't worth it.
I enjoy my dogs...so I bathe, feed, groom, spend time with, and vaccinate them. I love my family and my friends, so I take care of those relationships...but I have to remain aware of the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. I enjoy my house...so I have to clean it. I want my car to actually run...so I have to put gas and oil in it and have it serviced occasionally.
Maintenance is just something that has to be done. It isn't always pleasant, but it is necessary. It is also something to be considered before we even think of bringing something into our lives. The upkeep can trump any joy that might be derived from ownership. And the time we invest may become so overwhelming that we end up missing the joy in ownership...or even life.
Today I'll be going through another box of "stuff" that is on its way to parts unknown. Big Dave will be in the garage trying to turn it from the chaoic mess it is right now. I'll also be mailing off a few boxes of things that I've put on eBay that were "too good to throw away" and I felt would be unappreciated by a thrift store. I've made $50 so far...so there's that.
But most importantly, I'm spending some time today with my family. That's some maintenance that I actually enjoy...and am looking forward to as well. After all, my family is all that is here that I can take to heaven with me someday...so the time I spend in maintaining these relationships actually has eternal consequences. The rest of it will be left for other people to have to deal with when I'm gone. And they probably won't care about it nearly as much as I do.
So, get out there and fix, sort, give, and declutter your life. Enjoy what you have...and only have what you enjoy. Be a good steward and think twice before you add to your maintenance schedule...unless it is with people who will bring you closer to the kingdom...or those who've been entrusted to your care. In those cases...maintain away.