Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pollyanna and Poppycock

One of Lily's (3) morning chores is to make Abraham's and Miriam's (2) beds. This morning she came skipping down the stairs singing, "Mommy, come look! Mommy, come look! I made Miriam's bed a SPECIAL way!"

"Just a minute!" I yelled and finished chopping the red pepper for tonight's salad. A long minute later (no wonder my kids' sense of time is so warped), after chopping the pepper, leaving a message for Mom on her voicemail, and washing up the breakfast dishes, I took my hands out of the dishwater, dried them on my pants, and headed up the stairs to see this newest masterpiece.  

A 3-yr. old's definition of "special" differs drastically from ...well ... mine, so I glanced in the room, gave what I hoped was a convincing "Wowww..." to Lily who was putting toothbrushes away in the bathroom, and turned to take the vacuum downstairs. 

Lily went into her room to re-gaze upon her work, but the shriek that followed let me know she was no longer in awe. "WHO MESSED IT UP? WHO MESSED IT UP?" she started yelling. "I DID A BOOTIFUL JOB, AND SOMEBODY MESSED IT UP! NOW I HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER!!" 

I gave my best Haley Mills smile and said, "I'm sorry someone messed it up. I'm sure it was beautiful. But you can do it again. Think of it this way: now you have a chance to practice making it your special way. And you can do it a different special way, if you like! You can be glad that you get another chance to do something you're good at!" 

I smiled as I headed back down the stairs. And why shouldn't I? The salad for tonight was ready, my phone call made, the breakfast dishes done, the laundry hung... 

The laundry. I looked outside to re-gaze upon my work, and a snapped clothesline full of wet clothes lying in the grass is what met my eyes. "Ugggggh," I groaned as I slammed the vacuum down. Grabbing the laundry basket, I fiercely swung the door open and stomped out to face my chore with grit. Trying to stifle the rising anger, I attempted to go into automatic mode and just get the clothes into the basket. But with each grasshopper, spider, mosquito, and fly, not to mention (OK, yes to mention) the sweltering wet heat, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. And unlike Lily, I didn't even have anyone to blame, which was more frustrating. 

The closest I could come to a scapegoat was stinkin' Pollyanna. My own words echoed in my head: "You can do it again. Think of it this way: now you have a chance to practice drying them your special way. And you can do it a different special way, if you like! You can be glad that you get another chance to do something you're good at!"

Please. It's not like it's rocket science. It's drying the clothes, for crying out loud. There's no art to it. Practice won't make perfection, it merely makes another load dry -- if you're lucky, that is.  

Pollyanna can mind her own business and start shaking out some clothes. I don't need the Glad Game; I need to not have my day interrupted by wasted time. I'll see your Pollyanna and raise you an Erma Bombeck. 

But even as I mentally raged, I could see the futility of my anger. It wasn't getting any more clothes picked up, it wasn't bringing glory to God, and doggone it, it wasn't even making me feel any better. I grew (slightly) pensive. Ethan and I had been talking about having that heavenly perspective, that view that as believers, eternity has already started. What was this job doing for eternity? Well, absolutely nothing on its own. Having to gather the clothes to re-dry them is not going to mold the future into anything. Then what on earth good is it? It is even lower on the totem pole (to use a thoroughly syncretistic metaphor) than other daily drudgeries; because not only is it something that is just going to have to be done again (like washing dishes and making beds and changing diapers and brushing teeth), it is something that I had already done for this moment in time. I had already hung these clothes to dry! I should not have ever had to gather them to be re-dried! 

But even the phrasing of my question: What on earth good is it? led me to a revealing question. Who cares what good it is on earth? How could it be something good for heaven? The answers that I came up with were not profound or earth- (or heaven-) shaking, but they did give me cause for thought.

First, the very pondering of what possible good this was doing for heaven had already made me think more about heaven than I had this morning.

Second, it was a chance for practice. Not practice at gathering clothes, but practice at cheerfully doing the task set before me (and from the looks of it, I really do need the practice). 

Third, as with most unpleasant jobs, it gave me cause to reflect on the fact that heaven will not be like earth (amen!). Heaven will not have wasted time. The time there will be endless, but it will not by any means be wasteful or wasted. 

Fourth, I could rejoice that this was my worst problem of the day. This is almost reason to be giddy. Nobody's life is endangered, nobody's relationship is severed, nobody's family is compromised because I have to pick up wet clothes. 

Fifth, my Robes with a capital "R" are the kind that never ever ever have to be re-washed or re-dried. I can do NOTHING to dirty these clothes. No Spray-n-Wash or Oxi Clean or hydrogen peroxide will wash out the blood of the Lamb. And, ironically, His blood has made my Robes white.

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

"Therefore they are before the throne of God,
   and serve him day and night in his temple;
   and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
   the sun shall not strike them,
   nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
   and he will guide them to springs of living water,
   and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."  (Rev. 7:13-17)

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