Paint, Power Tools, and a Picture of Grace

Rich, Tom, and the Door
Home Repairs and Unlikely Lessons
Yesterday we spent the day at our good friend Tom’s house so Rich could repair a french door that had fallen victim to a puppy’s gnawings. I’ve written before about Tom and how our paths crossed one night under unlikely circumstances. I was looking forward to spending the day with Rich and Tom, assisting my husband with the repairs, and maybe operating one or more of the power tools Rich had assembled to bring with us.
After spending the day with him yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that God has placed Tom in my path to teach me about grace. The bullet-point summary of our day would read like any weekend warrior’s home repair project: Assess the project over coffee. Go to the hardware store for materials. Begin project. Order pizza. Break for lunch. Complete project (taking much more time than anticipated). Clean up.
There were moments when I could help Rich with the project. I pulled the hinge pins while he steadied the door. I drove a few screws while he held the fresh wood, cut to fit the corner the pup had eaten, in place. I rounded up tools that had strayed out of his reach.
Between these small tasks, Tom and I talked. Our conversation meandered over several topics, but one resonates in my heart today.
Tom talked with me about life as a widower, having lost his wife to cancer 12 years ago, when their boys were teenagers. He told me about his dream where God met him in a yogurt shop to ask Tom why he needed to know why God had called her home so young. He told me about friends–couples they’d socialized with for years–who distanced themselves when he became single. He told me all the reasons he had moved to a new church after she died.
He asked me how to make meat loaf.
Before we left for the day, we made plans for Tom to join us for dinner soon. I’ll show him how to make meat loaf. I’d written down the recipe for him, but he’s a visual learner, so we’ll gather for a demonstration.
That’s the least I can do, after all Tom showed me yesterday. My dad has been navigating as a widower for two years now. Two friends have recently set sail on those uncharted waters after losing their husbands this summer.
With no trace of self-pity, bitterness, or anger, Tom presented a travelog of the unwelcome voyage my father and my friends have undertaken.
I understand better now how I can meet them in the foreign ports along the way. Thanks, Tom.
23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you

and make you wise.
Proverbs 1:23 (NLT)