Lament for a Leak

I’m upset over something that happened yesterday. And I feel stupid for being so upset. The something is that in a rainstorm, I discovered my bedroom window is leaking badly. My office window is also leaking.

I feel like that shouldn’t upset me so much — and then my mind keeps spinning over reasons why it does.

And that gets me thinking about Psalms.

You see, I recently finished writing a book about Psalms, Praying with the Psalmists. I don’t yet have a publisher, but my premise is that you can use the patterns from Psalms to write your own prayers.

And I want to try a Lament for this Leak. I think it will help me calm down my catastrophic thinking.

I learned when studying Psalms that God wants our honesty. The psalmists seem somewhat extreme in their complaints. So if I’m extreme in what I worry about regarding this stupid leak — well, that’s okay. God can handle it.

I’ll use parallelism, and I’ll use the ACCESS form of a Lament:

Address to God
Confession of Trust
Sureness of Help
Subsequent Praise

Here goes! I’m going to sit down and write this now and try not to edit it too much. This is my prayer.

[Address to God]
Lord, I’m coming to you about this leak,
I’m telling you my worries and fears
because I want to trust that you care about me;
I want to believe that you listen to my concerns.

This one seems too petty for you, God.
I’m a grown-up, shouldn’t I deal with it?
But let me come to you like a child
because as a father has compassion on his children
so you have compassion on those who follow you.

A situation like this makes me miss my father,
miss someone to turn to,
miss not having to be the most responsible one.
So it’s time to turn to You, Father.

It’s just a window!
But I’ve been afraid of this.

When my air conditioner went out and pulled me back into debt,
my friend said, “What’s *really* expensive are windows.”
Just a couple years ago, our condo association sent out a notice:
Replacing windows is now the responsibility of the homeowner.
Because they’re all getting old,
and the association can’t afford to replace them all.
They had us vote on it,
but what could I do?
We don’t want our fees to go up,
but neither do I want the expense.
Had a feeling it would be relevant,
but hoped I was just superstitious.

Many months ago, I noticed a leak
in the window in my office.
But it didn’t happen again
until yesterday.
I’d hoped it was a fluke.

For the same months, I’ve been noticing a wet, rotting wood smell
near the window in my bedroom
every time it rains.
But never saw any water.
Maybe I’m imagining it?
After all, if I don’t actually see a leak,
how could it actually be there?

Then yesterday it was spitting out.
My head got sprinkled when I ducked in to see where it was coming from.

The rug was wet next to my bed.
Then I saw splashes on the things under the window.
I moved those things next to the piles
removed from my closet months ago.
I got a step ladder and found the water was coming
from the wooden casing above the window.
The paint is cracked, and water was coming out
randomly all in a line,
all along the top of the window,
falling all the way down
not in a stream I could catch in a bowl,
but spreading out and spraying.

I put down plastic,
wiped it down.
The office window was leaking too.
(Usually wind drives rain the other direction
— that’s the one good side.)

Four months ago, a bathroom leak from the condo above me
destroyed my master bathroom and closet.
I still haven’t returned everything to the closet,
trying to sort through the boxes of books.
I’ve only just recently finished cleaning the dust
from the reconstruction.
I still haven’t gotten back
the $500 deductible,
because the problem didn’t originate within my unit.

So I don’t want another project.
I haven’t put my house back together after the last one!
Problems are supposed to wait their turn!
Aren’t they?

And money!
Ten years ago, my Dad gave me the down payment to buy this place.
A few years later, a home equity loan allowed me to pay off
heavy debt from my divorce.

Then the water heater broke…
then the air conditioner…
and always, God provided.

In a few months, I’ll have my car paid off,
and I was already daydreaming about saving little by little
to buy one more car – without payments –
before I retire.

I’d got it in my head that at last I’d go back to visit Germany
where I lived for ten years,
but haven’t seen for eighteen years.
I’d go next June for my sixtieth birthday.
What better way to celebrate?

Now I feel like who am I
to dare to plan for something special like that?
Who am I to think
I can be out of debt for more than a few months at a time?

And, Lord, I know it’s so childish!
It’s expensive to own a home.
My condo already saved my financial situation.
At worst, surely I can get a home equity loan.
But I’m still complaining!
This is the part about all the thoughts going through my head:

How dare I think I can have nice things?
I’m on the Morris committee!
How can I possibly find time to have people come through my home
open up a wall
rip things apart
and put in a new window?
And how will I ever find time to clean up after?
Why can’t I just ignore the problem
and hope the wind won’t blow that direction with rain ever again?

And where do I start?
Who do I call?
(The condo association.
Maybe they can tell me where to get windows that match.)

Okay, that’s the start of my complaint, Lord!
It’s a big mess of money and time that I for sure
do not want to spend right now.

It childishly doesn’t seem fair
when I haven’t even put things back together after the other leak.

It all seemed like more when I was stewing.
But those are my complaints, Lord.
I’m not looking forward to dealing with it.
I’m not looking forward to paying for it.
I’m not looking forward to having people fix it.
I’m not looking forward to moving my furniture to make it happen.
I’m not looking forward to the disruption of folks working on it.
I’m not looking forward to cleaning up after it.

And I keep hoping the problem is just a fluke,
but yesterday was enough water
that I think the time for ignoring the problem
is long past.

[Confession of Trust]
Lord, thank you that writing all that out
isn’t nearly as bad as what was spinning in my head.
Thank you for this home
and how it solved my credit card debt.
Thank you that you provided
after all the other repairs and after dental crises and other unexpected expenses.
Thank you for that $3000 award that came
exactly when I was $3000 in debt.

Father, by now I should have learned that you can meet my needs.
And you help me deal with things I don’t want to deal with.
And you help me find professionals who know what they’re doing.
And I can really do this Grown-up stuff!

And yes, I can trust you, Lord.
And no, this isn’t a disaster.
And yes, I have so many resources
and should probably be ashamed for how upset this got me.
Because you will be with me, Lord,
as you have been with me before.

Lord, be with me
as you have promised!
Grant me wisdom
to figure out who to call,
to find trustworthy professionals,
who quote me a good price.
If I need a home equity loan to pay for it,
help me through that process, too.
Make me thankful for my cozy and beautiful home
as I invest in it something in return
for the shelter it has provided to me.

Be with me in this process, Lord.
May it not cost as much money and time
as I fear.
And provide for my needs,
as you always do.
Help me not to fret;
eliminate my disaster thinking,
and grant me grace as I carry on.

[Sureness of Help]
Lord, already I feel more calm.
I know that you see me
and you will help me
and you keep me from disaster.

[Subsequent Praise]
When it’s all done,
when I have brand-new windows
with a lovely new window treatment
(because why not?)
and my house put back together —

It’s time for me to have a party
and tell my friends:
I was so worried about this;
I felt sorry for myself dealing with it on my own,
but the Lord helped me through.

Okay, that’s my psalm of lament.

It’s childish, it’s silly. I’m making a fuss over something people deal with all the time.

But you know what? I feel better after writing that. More equipped to figure out what needs to be done, and not panic about what it will take to do it.

For you, reader, it’s not that I want to make you listen to all my petty worries. It’s that I want to share that we all have petty worries. And yes, we can pray about them! And for me, the Lament form really helps.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.


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