I was once asked to help fix a commercial toilet. The head maintenance man was offsite and thus providing instructions over the phone. Those instructions were then relayed to me. I was told to turn a large hex bolt attached to the water supply (there were two of them which turned out to be important).

After the first turn, water began to drip from behind the bolt. When I inquired I was told this was normal. By the next turn, water was spraying out, like when you press your thumb over a garden hose. Still normal. On the final turn the bolt broke free releasing a fierce torrent of frigid water that struck me in the chest. In shock I stumbled aside and just watched as the steady stream of water spanned the full length of the bathroom and splattered off the mirror.

The water level quickly began to rise around my feet. The others with me took off as soon as it happened and I was left to fight the flood on my own. I splashed around until I found the bolt and attempted to force it back in place. The cold spray beat against my face and stung my eyes. I dropped it several times, once in the toilet. Eventually I managed to plug the hole. This happened just after another staff person cut off the main water supply on the other side of the building.

It is a massive understatement to say my efforts were futile. But in the moment it felt legitimate. When placed in a situation that is quickly spiraling, the natural reaction is to try and regain control. If that is your default, give yourself some grace.

But what if we stopped trying to hold onto control. I’m not saying do nothing. Don’t stand there and let the water bore a hole in your chest. But rather than self-reliance, what if we sought help. Acknowledge the beast is bigger than us and go to find someone who knows how to beat it.

Within Christian thought there is a word for this. It is called prayer.

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