I got married when I was 21. I was certainly the wisest, most mature and capable 21 year old to ever enter the glorious world of matrimony. I was getting married with the unbending confidence that I was going to be a really great wife. How could I not?  I was marrying a guy in BIBLE COLLEGE!!  How could it not be great?

Well…..marriage was hard! Turns out that Budd wasn’t just like me. His cute idiosyncrasies became huge annoyances and offenses against my sensibilities. He was such …a….a man!

Budd and I had some really rough years. In a time of great despondency and hopelessness there came a picture to my mind.  A toolbox with only two tools in it: a hammer and a pair of pliers. The message was this:  I did not have adequate tools in my toolbox to be a wife…to be married.

I was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs.  She was a very good mom. I gained life tools for hard work, loving well, caring for each other, loving Jesus, being thrifty….so many great life tools. What I didn’t witness was how to be a wife (single mom, remember?). When I got married I was unaware that I had no tools for my new role.  So what did I do?  I used the tools I had…I parented Budd.  I tried to be a really good mom to him.  Apparently he didn’t want that.

It was only by God’s grace and a lot of hard work that I began to add tools to my toolbox through watching marriages I respected, reading helpful books and a whole boatload of counseling and prayer. I knew I would not make it without the right tools.

All of us come into adulthood with limited tools. Life, our history, education, family systems, etc. have often failed to provide the necessary tools for our best life. Some may have a pretty good head start on it but all are in need of help. Whether its marriage, parenting, finances, faith, career…wherever you find yourself at a loss to excel in life, don’t give up. Go after the tools necessary tools. Don’t assume you have everything you need. You don’t. But there are resources…tools…that are available. Put on your big kid pants and go after the tools needed for your best life. 

Continuing on….

Because God is my go-to resource in everything I began to pray that He would teach me to be a good wife to Budd. Unfortunately (if I can be very honest) God answered my prayer. It was a very challenging season of letting go of self-protection, self-defensiveness, self-centeredness, and a whole of other self things. I’m not saying our issues were all my fault but my side of the marriage was all I could deal with, my responsibility. In this season I went to counseling, read books and worked hard on my attitude. Gradually, my tool box began to fill with helpful tools like patience, forgiveness, grace, listening and more. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t easy but it was worth it.  You see, the tools I gained were not just for my marriage, they were for my best life. I was becoming a person I could love and appreciate.

I recently purchased a yard blower to help me keep my property cleaned up.  Between leaves and peacock feathers I get too frustrated trying to sweep (yes, I’m a princess). I’ve watched countless yard guys blow leaves, dirt, grass, etc. and it’s so cool and easy!  The right tool makes a huge difference. So I break out my yard blower and….I sent feathers, dirt, leaves, pine needles and trash into the air, into my face and hair, into the flower bed — everywhere I didn’t want it! The more I tried to corral the debris the worse it got. It has taken me quite a while to tame that beast. The point is…

My journey to becoming a better wife was even more challenging. It had much less to do with cooking or cleaning than it did with forgiving, being kind and adjusting my attitude.  It had most to do with bending a knee to God, trusting His guidance and cooperating as He shaped me (that cooperating piece was not easy!). Those were difficult tools to master.

But those are exactly the tools that were needed to build my marriage.  Assuming I had the right tools didn’t work. Refusing to learn to use them didn’t work. I needed the right tools and I needed to learn to use them.

There are countless stories in the Bible of people who were ill-equipped to master the tasks at hand.  

  • Moses was supposed to lead a couple of million Jewish slaves out of Egypt but he was a stuttering fugitive (you’ve probably seen the Charlton Heston movie….). 
  • David was a shepherd boy who killed a giant with a rock.
  • Gideon was hiding in a hole when God told him he was going to defeat an enemy army.
  • A virgin teenager was told by an angel that she was going to have God’s son. Talk about insufficient tools!

Whatever you face today, whatever has you stymied or discouraged, prayerfully consider the tools needed to change your life and then go after them. Don’t assume you are too awful or too uneducated or too…whatever. You just lack the tools to live your best life. Personally, I can’t do life…don’t want to do life… without God so I would recommend Him to you. 

Further reading…

Story of:

Moses: Exodus 1-15

David:  1 Samuel 17

Gideon: Judges 6

Mary:  Luke 1:26-38

Philippians 4:9  

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

James 1:5 

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Philippians 2:13 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Ephesians 3:20 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

7 thoughts on “Toolbox

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