Water all over the garage floor. At first I thought it was melted snow from the trash can (one’s optimism initially resists the possibility of a water leak). But this water was warm–too warm. And dripping out of the wall. The water heater was leaking–and the emergency drain system was failing. “IT CAN’T BE LEAKING! THE UNIT IS ONLY THREE YEARS OLD!”

Take a deep breath. Try not to let your brain flood with panic as the sound of water pours into your ears. Call Dad.

Thankfully, five hours later, a new unit was installed, the water back on, the mess cleaned up.

In the same month, I had already repaired a toilet that was covertly leaking under the floor–and replaced the subfloor and flooring. Both vehicles needed new batteries. Now we’ve got a leaky tire hissing for attention.

I had a seminary prof who threw out a theory about the proverbial Seven Year Itch (the idea that marital happiness declines around the seven year mark)–not at all proven, any more than cynical Murphey’s Laws. Prof observed that a good portion of your wedding presents has the same lifespan, and starts to wear out around the same time. The financial stress along with the psychological stress of seemingly constant maintenance can fray your nerves.

What to do?

1) Try to zoom out and notice all the maintenance-free months you’ve fixed nothing.

2) Consider longevity in your buying strategy. Is it worth it to pay more for a product that’s known to have a longer lifespan?

3) Consider that the broken item may have been a gift that you never paid for in the first place.

4) For every product that breaks early, try to look around and find one that lasted way longer than it should have.

5) Remember that the broken item isn’t a person–which gives us an opportunity to be thankful for our health and pray for the sick.

6) Try to laugh at the coincidence–and if this is impossible today, console yourself that it will be funny next month.

7) Most importantly, remember that our longing for permanence is provoked by maintenance–and this itch is only going to be scratched in Christ and in His promises. For now, we weed.