My two year old picked up a delicate flower figurine from his great grandmother's coffee table. No sooner than I could caution him and ask him to put it down, he dropped the dainty ceramic flower on the floor and broke the stem. I warned my little guy that the flower was breakable and that he probably should only look rather than touch. The temptation was too much for him; he had to touch it.
Inside my head, I was scolding him and wondering why he just wouldn't listen -- after all, I knew better! On the outside, I called him over to me, looked him in the eye and told him that he needed to apologize to great grandma because he broke one of her decorations. And he would be sad if someone broke one of his toys. He apologized, gave her a hug and then went right back to the table to play with some other decorations. He thought twice about picking up the broken flower the next time it tempted him. Instead he just looked.
It's been one of those weekends. I've sighed, moaned, groaned and hemmed and hawed about so many happenings, circumstances and inconveniences.
The dining room table was a terrible, cluttered mess.
The toddler dumped water all over the just-cleaned wooden floors and made tracks around the house.
My hubby left four different pairs of shoes scattered around the first floor.
The garbage can in the kitchen was overflowing.
The baby kept me awake in the wee hours of the morning.
The dishes were piled high on the counters.
I could have chosen to smile and just clean up the messes and easily forgive the perpetrators, but I just continued to make deep, long sighs resonate through out the house as I moved about cleaning and cleaning and clearing. The temptation to express my disdain was too great to surpress.
We were eating dinner Sunday evening after a long, busy weekend that severely lacked apt relaxation. Patience was wearing thin. The two year old lost interest in eating dinner and instead wanted to play with dinner. I sighed and felt tempted to scold him about his behavior. Our Christmas edition of the World Vision magazine caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. The World Vision magazine showcases a ton of life-changing gifts available for us to purchase and send to a family who desperately needs it -- think chickens, ducks, clean wells. My heart surged, and I picked up the magazine. I showed the two year old the magazine. I turned to a page that featured pictures of children who didn't have food until someone sent their family goats last holiday season. I let go of the temptation to scold and instead explained to him that those little boys didn't have any breakfast, lunch or dinner and they spent a lot of time being hungry. And that we are blessed to have food, so we should eat it and not play with it. Normally, after a scolding the toddler continues to play with his food anyway. But this time, he studied the pictures, picked up a few forkfuls of beans and ate them. And he didn't play with his food again during the meal.
After the toddler and baby went to sleep, I opened the World Vision magazine. I flipped through the pages and read the stories of families who lives had been revolutionized completely after receiving a gift like a cow or sheep or chicken or clean well in their community.
I looked around the house -- at the pile of dishes, the clutter on the table, the toys on the floor, the clothes in massive piles. Normally, I would sigh, huff, puff or become irritated. But those reactions didn't seem so tempting anymore.
Thank you, Lord, for the dirty dishes; we had food on them that filled our tummys.
Thank you, Lord, for the dirty clothes piled miles high; our family can keep warm in the cold.
Thank you, Lord, for the clutter on the table; I have a husband who is alive and well to put it there.
Thank you, Lord, for the toys on the floor; we have beautiful children who are healthy enough to play with them.
Thank you for this mess. Because in it, I'll now remember those who don't have messes, and I won't be tempted to forget this lesson anytime soon. And through this, I'll also remember that two year olds aren't the only ones who are ever tempted, fall short and are awarded with grace anyway.
Maybe next time, I'll remember not to touch the flower.