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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't Draw on the Fireplace

I was Nanny this weekend as my host parents were out of town. The kids and I sat down for dinner. The girls ages 5 and 7 love hearing stories about when I was their age. “Hethy, tell us about when you got in trouble…” I proceeded to tell them the following story:

Heather. Age 5. A strong-willed visionary. One day, I decided that our beautiful, stone fireplace needed to be zest up a bit. I took my crayons and added my artwork to the mantle. I thought it looked amazing – however, my mother did not share the same thought. She took one look at my masterpiece and I knew I had royally made a mistake. Firmly corrected, I was given a toothbrush to scrub my Crayola off the fireplace. I cried and scrubbed for what seemed like an eternity.

I asked the girls what would happen to them if they ever drew on the wall. They responded with similar disciplinary actions; mom unhappy, spanking, time out, cleaning… we all drew the conclusion that it would not be a good idea to try. Ever.

 So, notice my surprise when I groggily stumbled into the bathroom (which I share with them) the next morning and artwork now decorated the side of the white cabinet…. I asked the girls if they knew anything about the “mystery artist.” Both blamed it on the 11-month-old baby.

I may not be a mom yet, but I do have some intuition, knowing the baby cannot even hold the mini crayons that were found at the scene of the crime. I asked the girls a second time if anyone would like to confess as it would be much better than telling a lie.

My older sister smugly reported that she had nothing to do with it. I looked at Little Bit… her eyes as big as saucers and filling with tears.  “Kier, do you want to tell me something?” She nodding and took my hand into the bathroom where she confessed. I asked her why she did it. “Well, it sounded like a fun idea.” “Kiki, we talked about the consequences when I told the story last night…” “I knowwww,” she whined; now starting to cry.

So yes, she was given a toothbrush and spend the next half-hour scrubbing the bathroom. She decided it wasn’t such a good idea after all. My question though is this: Why do we still do it?

In our lives, there are so many times when we watch a family member or friend go through a rough time. Maybe they make a bad choice, maybe they think the grass is greener on the other side, maybe they fall in with bad friends… in the end they admit it was a mistake – wrong thinking. Yet, we still feel the need to try it for ourselves. Why do we not learn from the experiences of others?

 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

So that you can endure. Other translations say: so that you can stand up under it. You can stand up under your situation! Praise God for that! I do not know what you are struggling with. You may be trying taste what the world has to offer; a life of partying and alcohol and meaningless relationships. You may be struggling with depression and find that rejoicing in the Lord is a task too lofty for your current emotional state. You may think the grass looks greener at a different job or with a different mate…

I don’t believe in coincidences; I believe those are the instances in which God has chosen to remain anonymous. I bet the Lord has placed someone in your life who has “been there – done that.”  Am I right? No one is in your life just because. Recall that your struggles “are no different from what others experience.”

That is in scripture for a reason. Don’t play the martyr – you aren’t the only one going through your situation and you’re certainly not alone. If you feel that way, I venture to say your pride may have something to do with that. The church was designed with the purpose of helping shoulder one another’s burdens; to encourage one another; to lift each other up. Find strength from that person who has already scribbled on the fireplace and paid the price for it. Seek out those friendships that will lift you up and push you through whatever challenging season you are in. Do you really think that if you try it the outcome will be any different?

Kierstin wanted to try it too; it sounded like a fun idea to her. I promise if you asked her while she was scrubbing the bathroom cabinets, she would tell you that it wasn’t worth it. The poor thing scrubbed while tears flowed down her pink cheeks – it was hard not to laugh at the irony of the situation. <Insert big, spiritual pause for reflection here.>The outcome was the same as mine… I guess now, she has a story to tell her daughter when she is five. Hopefully she will learn rather than having to figure it out the hard way!

Don’t bother drawing on the fireplace… it’s not worth your while. 

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