Emmet. Ring a bell? Emmet Clark? From the Mayberry R.F.D. series of the late ’60s? He can be seen in reruns on the oldie stations nowadays. My husband and I enjoy that show even more than we did when it first aired in 1968. It stirs warm feelings for the good old days. And who couldn’t use a dose of the good old days right now?
The success of the old shows seems to have been their relatability to the ordinary man, woman, and child. My husband adores “The Dick VanDyke Show” simply because he feels like Dick and sees me as his Laura. We often look at one another and laugh as we see Dick wind up in one dilemma after another or open his mouth, intending to make an innocent comment, only to find it coming out completely wrong. Those who know my husband can understand why that would make us chuckle. And Laura’s sometimes quirky responses make me seem normal after all. That’s a relief to both of us!
The old shows seemed to help us take life in stride and make the best of the situations that came our way. The unstressed nature of the shows relaxed us and helped us laugh and groan in not mere sympathy, but in actual empathy.
Modern shows often lack the real-life nature of the older shows. It can be fun to join in on a televised adventure we know could never happen to us. That’s what imagination is. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Seeing someone survive an extra-terrestrial attack stimulates our adrenalin. But it doesn’t hit us in the gut of everyday living. It fails to show a fellow simply surviving a day in the ditches or an emotional aunt at a family reunion. It doesn’t help us solve the situations we face in the average day.
But then, there’s Emmet. Well-meaning, bumbling, “I can fix it” Emmet. He’s not the star of the show. He’s a sidekick. He was the lovable old fix-it man of Mayberry. We all have an Emmet personality in our list of friends. His personality is relatable. But as my husband and I discussed the other night, Emmet’s occupation seems to be relatively less relatable in our society today. The general fix-it man appears to be going the way of the door-to-door milkman, the laundry line, the typewriter, and the blacksmith. These occupations and devices can be found, but they are no longer considered common. As a matter of fact, the current young generation might have no true understanding of them. It has become increasingly difficult to relate to Emmet, the repairman.
Are you old enough to remember the Maytag repairman commercials? He was a lonely repairman because, supposedly, the Maytag machines were so well constructed that he had no business. Today, however, the problem to me seems less that manufacturing has improved so greatly but more that people are not as interested in having items repaired. (Unless, of course, it can be fixed with duct tape!) They would rather have them replaced or upgraded than to have them fixed. Brokenness equals trash. Throw it away. It doesn’t work any more, so it’s not worth fixing. Researchers estimate that the rate of trash disposal will triple during the current century. Without a doubt, we live in a “throw it away” era. Most all of us have undoubtedly experienced it. The rate at which technology is developing has added to this problem.
I’m a sentimental gal. Especially at this stage of life, I find it difficult to throw things away because each item tends to associate itself with a sweet memory. (That’s a topic for another day.) I hate to see my favorite whatchamacallit bite the dust. It’s like the old security blanket feeling. On the other hand, I, like most people, get rather giddy with the thrill of the new whatchamajigger. Shinier, fancier, more efficient, newer – all these words describe the reward for ditching the old one and embracing the new. But it’s also a trap. For the most part, we’ve devalued the art of fixing things. We’ve lost sight of the joy of seeing something restored to its original usefulness and beauty.
The most tragic evidence of this throw-away mindset is often seen in relationships. We nurture friendships for many years, building scads of memories. We faithfully serve in a church and accumulate Sunday school pins galore. We associate with partners through prosperity and failure. We build close knit bonds with family, those who have often known us the longest and should love us the best, who comfort us through heartache and congratulate us on our achievements. Until. Until a thoughtless comment is made. Until a special event is forgotten. Until a confidence is broken. Until a responsibility is neglected. Until a disagreement parts hearts. Until an act of disloyalty hurts us to the core. Until our hearts are crushed. Until the relationship is broken. Until it needs fixing.
Then we are left with a choice. Is it worth fixing?
Sometimes an item is irreparably broken. It needs to be pitched. But a relationship is not meant to be a disposable commodity. The cost may be exorbitant. Forgiveness and restoration do not come cheaply. Psalm 34:14 instructs us to “seek peace, and pursue it.” Romans 12:18 repeats the command: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Walking away from a relationship does not mean it is fixed. A bond is not repaired until the persons involved decide to overcome a hurt. Resolving conflict does not indicate that no harm was done. It indicates, rather, that those involved have decided the partnership is more highly valued than the cost of forgiveness. Pride and selfishness will make restitution even more difficult. If we have been the offender, pride will try to keep us from humbly admitting our fault. If we have been offended, the Bible commands us to humbly approach the offender to confront the issue. And that’s tough!
God gives us the finest example of mending relationships. He did not toss us from His sight when we were broken in sin. Though the cost was great, He viewed us as fixable. His own precious blood salvaged our souls. This salvation proves both the cost and the value of redemption, of fixing a broken relationship. Romans 5:8 clearly states that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We owe Him a great debt. He paid the ultimate price in order to restore our relationship with Him. Eternally! Not everyone will accept a restored relationship with Him. But He offers it to all. Not everyone will appreciate our attempt to mend a broken connection. But we should do our part to fix it. After all, He has forgiven us. “And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
Relationships are worth our best effort at mending. God has shown us how, and He offers to help us fix them.
And that’s eternally more than Emmet could do!