When Taylor and I were newly engaged, we set out into the world of wedding registration. Walking into our Northwest Chicago suburban Bed Bath & Beyond felt overwhelming for us mostly broke 20-somethings. Taylor assumed the position, gun in hand ready to shoot, and we began to make our way through the massive store. It was not long before the first argument ensued. We stood in the aisle with the small appliances - toasters, blenders, coffee makers and the like. I voted for the middle of the road selection- something that wasn't cheap, but not too expensive, but Taylor wasn't having it. He was aiming for the base level models. Living off one small income ourselves, he couldn't fathom registering for something that we would not be able to afford for one of our own friend's weddings. I conceded, fearing our primarily college-aged wedding guests might be offended at something with a high price point. We registered for the base models of all appliances in shades of white.
Those appliances lasted for about 3 years before needing replacements. The one in particular that caused us problems was the blender. No matter what we were blending, the smell and taste of burnt rubber was its dominant ingredient. A year after we were married we packed our things and moved from Illinois to California. I'm pretty sure the blender was accidentally left off our packing list.
One of the benefits of living in the same town as my parents during this next season, is that we got "gently used" hand me downs, one of which was a stainless steel blender with a variety of attachments. It had a food processor attachment as well as a whisk - two features I rarely used. Despite its capabilities, this appliance was primarily used as a blender, until it broke. Then it sat in my cupboard for a long time. Like years. We didn't know exactly what was wrong with it so we didn't know exactly how to fix it. There was a fool's hope that it might start working again. It was so pretty and shiny and capable I just couldn't bring myself to throw it out. Eventually, it either made its way into one of our garage sales or was a casualty of a spring cleaning binge, but I don't have a clear recollection as to what happened to it. I just knew that we didn't have a working blender and I can still remember the space in the cupboard that it occupied all those years.
We adapted to not having a blender, until a day when I had an intense craving for a blended margarita to accompany the fish tacos we were having for dinner. I phoned our good friends the Jeffersons and asked to borrow theirs. True to form, they were quick to share and brought it over. The meal was delightful and the cold, icy beverage just the fix to combat the 100 degree heat.
The summer ended and the school year began again, which meant schedules and to-do lists were in full effect. The house we live in has a plethora of storage, which is a blessing and a curse. I have lots of places to store the things I no longer need, or never needed. Out of sight equals out of mind. This particular week, my to-do list was to purge the kitchen cabinets. I got to it and I was effective. I was sorting and purging and filling up the trash as well as the garage sale bins. I came across the cabinet with the blender and without any thought, declared it broken and threw it in the trash. The day felt productive and I was glad to have accomplished something I could check off my list.
A few Saturdays later, my friend Nathan showed up while we were flipping pancakes. He enjoyed a cup of coffee with us before stating the reason for his visit. They were making fruit smoothies for breakfast and he came to get their blender. I opened the cupboard to retrieve it and then it all came into focus. Gulp. “Hey Nate, I threw away your blender. I can't believe I did it. I was cleaning and assumed that the broken one that occupied the cupboard for so long was what was in there. I pitched your perfectly good blender. I'm so sorry. I'll get you a replacement.” Nate razzed me a bit and then responded with grace. It is now a standing joke to keep blenders under lock and key when I am around.
This event has been revisiting my thoughts often this week. The second or third time it came to my mind, I felt like there was some strange significance to it that needed to be explored. I asked God if there was something He wanted to show me through these small, mundane things in my life. The Holy Spirit began to illuminate how my experiences and responses to what felt like a trivial set of issues with some appliances actually revealed something deeper about the state of my heart.
He brought to my attention stewardship and gratitude. I saw a parallel between how I related to each blender and how I've related to the provision God has given me. I'll try to unpack this cause yes...this is a blog about blenders.
Blender #1 - My decision to concede with a bottom-of-the-line blender for our wedding registration was driven by feeling self-conscious about asking for a high-end version. Certainly our wedding guests would feel inconvenienced with such a request. I internalized that we didn't really deserve something expensive and that asking for it was actually off-putting. I was simply too worried to ask for what I wanted because of what other people might think.
My response, hidden is some seemingly insignificant situation from twelve years ago, was a response in which I have become well acquainted. God is a giver. He gives and gives and gives and gives. And despite knowing this, I have found myself again and again downgrading what I really want to ask Him for because I'm thinking about what other people are thinking about. Whether the situation has involved a need for healing, monetary provision, or something just miraculous, I have too often settled for base level model requests. It lacks faith, it's rooted in a fear of man, and it actually makes light of the gospel because it misses the massive extent to which God went to redeem mankind to himself.
Blender #2 - When we were provided with a new, upgraded version from my folks, I didn't take the time to maximize its value or even learn how to fully use it. It wasn't something that I chose or paid for. It was used, and therefore not as good in my mind. When it broke down, I was content to just let it be that way. The irony in this situation is that I would have never with my own money shopped for something like the blender my parents gave me.
As I reflected on this situation, again the Holy Spirit began showing me that I have responded in similar fashion to what I've believed to be a spiritual hand-me-down from God. I felt a fresh conviction about how I've done this with myself. There are parts of my personality that frankly I've not understood. I've not known how to use them and I've questioned why God made me the way he did. In my confusion I have concluded that some areas of me are simply broken parts - parts that don't seem terribly necessary and really aren't worth attempting to fix.
Now just in case that last paragraph confused you, I am not talking about my "broken parts" like my brokenness. I came into this world broken and marred with a sin nature just like everyone. I have lived in this world, willfully sinning and attempting to satisfy myself...not debating this. But in the same way this gifted blender from my parents had some really unique and resourceful attributes that I never explored, I believe God has given each of us a set of gifts and abilities that require some discovery and most likely some redemption.
Blender #3 - When our friends lent us their blender we probably should have just given it back the next day. But because I had stored our blenders in the same spot for so many years, I just put theirs in the same spot without thinking. And when I threw it out, that was just an honest accident right? It probably was, but I knew there was more to explore in this situation as well.
I felt the Holy Spirit asking me about whether I miss God's provision because I relate to it as charity. The generosity from our friends was great in the moment but eventually a more dominate narrative took over - that we've had a broken blender that we can't fix and just needs to be thrown out. I realized that so often God shows up, he responds, he delivers, he answers prayers. And yet, within a few short days, or weeks, or months, I start playing old tapes about the lack in my life. I have taken his gifts and the testimony of his faithfulness and have casually disposed of it because I am stuck in the past.
As I processed through these realizations about how I have responded to God's provision and how I have responded to the way he made me, the parable of the talents came to mind. If you read through the passage below, let God uncover places He wants to be surrendered and alive; risking and believing that He is a good master. When we do not see Him rightly, we are the ones who suffer.
“It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.
"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'
"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'
"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'
"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
”'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won't go out on a limb.“
Grateful for a new day and new perspective. Onward.