The Author

Mirror

I fixed my wife’s lighted make-up mirror the other day. The mirror, which had been an important part of her Christmas list a few years ago, had been without a light for quite some time.

While I don’t remember the date, I do remember the day clearly. Ellen off-handedly mentioned that the light was no longer working, and I responded with the boast of an acknowledged know-it-all, “I bet I can fix that.” I’ve never met an appliance that I wasn’t willing to take apart.

I first assumed that the bulb was out, and that the fix was simply to open the cover and replace it. I looked high and low, turning the mirror upside down, over, and under, looking for a little latch, or even a slot for a screwdriver or a dime. Nothing. No latch. No slot. In my infinite wisdom, I concluded that there was no bulb.

Then, I decided that it was the dial. This particular mirror works on something of a dimmer switch system in which twisting the dial causes the light to increase or decrease in brightness. Turning it left and right, I could get nothing out of it. “There’s the problem,” I announced. “It’s the switch. Probably needs a new one.” Ellen, who had been watching this display of technological prowess, said, “I’ll just use it without the light.”

And so it has been for well over a year. Then the other day, I fixed it. It happened in this way. I was walking from the bedroom into the bathroom when I tripped over a pair of shoes that I had left laying in the floor. On the way down, I reached out to grab hold of something to steady myself. As I did, I knocked her mirror into the lavatory. After I had righted myself, I picked up the mirror only to realize, “Hey, the light’s on!” I turned it upside down, over, and under. I twisted the dial, left and right. It all worked. When I saw Ellen that night, my first words to her were, “Honey, I fixed your mirror.”

She could have responded in so many ways. She could have said, “Thank you!,” or, “I am so glad!,” or, “That’s nice.” But instead, she said, “How did you do it?” So, I had to admit to her that I hadn’t really fixed it, that my laziness in leaving my shoes on the floor had caused an avalanche of circumstances that almost resulted not in fixing but in breaking something that was a gift. I had to confess that my part was the mess; someone else did the fixing.

No reprimand, no eye-rolling. She just laughed and graciously said, “I’m glad it’s fixed.” Funny how life works, isn’t it? So often, we are supremely confident that we can meet every challenge, pry loose every lid, twist every dial, fix it. When we can’t, we live with the brokenness, making do with less, stepping over the mess we make. Then, one day, reaching out as we’re headed for another fall, we discover that we are rescued, redeemed, fixed. In that moment, if we listen closely, we can hear laughter, the laughter of one who loves us, the laughter of grace.