Fix It or Throw It Away?


Things break around our house. And when they do, we almost always struggle to decide whether we should fix it or just buy a new one.

I enjoy cooking. Even though I’m busy, I make a homemade meal almost every night. On the weekend  I like to cook something a little more elaborate. So last weekend, I popped some potatoes and spring vegetables in the oven and went about making the rest of the meal. An hour later, the potatoes were still hard, the vegetables were still crunchy and my oven was cool as a cucumber.

Should we fix it or buy a new one?

It happens. Ovens break. Not a big deal, right?

At my house, things break in groups. Within the past year, we’ve replaced a furnace, a hot water heater and a roof. Three big ticket items in the year that our oldest daughter started college. The last thing we needed was another expensive replacement project.

The oven was here when we bought the house, so it has to be at least 15 years old. Probably more like 20. Would I like a shiny, new oven? Absolutely. But in the back of my mind, I knew that we might be able to fix it instead.

For me, “fix it” is the spiritually responsible choice.

In the end, I put my new oven fantasy on hold and we decided to fix it.

As silly as it sounds, I view the decision to fix it as part of our commitment to live a spiritually disciplined life. Here’s why:

1. It’s better stewardship of the resources God has given us.

Although we don’t have a ton of cash sitting around, we could probably afford to buy a new $500 oven if we had to. But the cost of replacing the broken part turned out to be $18.95 plus shipping. In my mind, that’s a big enough difference to fix it rather than replace it. It’s not about being cheap–it’s about being good stewards of the money God has given us.

2. It’s better stewardship of the earth.

We live in a throw away culture that is obsessed with buying bigger and better, and throwing the old one away. Don’t believe it? Check out these EPA statistics about municipal solid waste and U.S. landfills. Unfortunately, our throwaway culture is a far cry from the days when my grandmother (who lived through the Depression) saved buttons, candy tins and odds & ends to repurpose for other uses.

3. It’s better stewardship of my soul.

Like most people, I struggle with coveting things that other people have. The bigger house. The newer car. The gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and cabinets newer than 1968. (You can tell I struggle more with covetousness when it comes to kitchens.)

The antidote for covetousness is contentment.

The opposite of covetousness is contentment. It’s healthy to be content with what we have.

It really is true. Material possessions can’t make us happy and the exhilaration we get from buying stuff is short-lived. Being content with the things God has given us is a spiritual discipline and an antidote to the covetousness that characterizes our throwaway culture.

So, we ordered a new part for the oven, researched how to fix it ourselves and saved over $400. Tim and I worked on it together, and pretty much agreed on the best way to fix it. (That’s kind of a rarity for us.)

In the end, I’m content and I’m happy keeping my old oven. It’s the right thing to do for the planet, my wallet and my spiritual growth.