Maybe It’s Not a Small World After All
My mother remodeled her bathroom this summer. It took her months to choose a new toilet. Once on order, she boasted of its magnificance, and hoped upon hope that she could have it installed in time for my sister’s visit. She did. My sister arrived from Minnesota while my mother was still at work. My sister, husband, two kids, and I all stood around a plain white commode trying to feel some sense of passion. We didn’t. When my mother got home, she immediately asked if we’ had seen the new fixture. We all did our best to emote, but she knew we were humoring her. I think it broke her heart a little.
Later that evening my son emerged from the restroom and yelled: “I get it, your feet don’t touch the floor. Cool!” . . .
My car was broken into on Christmas Eve. My, obviously useless, dog was in the front seat with my camera and purse so the robbers took the bag sitting on the backseat. Their haul included my last pair of trail runners (shoes so caked with mud you couldn’t even distinguish the branding), my favorite jeans (from 12th grade), and a box of tampons (the expensive all cotton kind). Someone witnessed the two hooligans grab the loot, but couldn’t catch them. Had they known the contents, they might have given it back willingly.
When no one was looking I cried a little over my stolen items; I planned to wear the shoes that morning on a run with a good friend, and any woman knows the value of good pair of jeans. The tampons were my only consolation. I guess you could say they absorbed my tears . . .
Grocery shopping last week, I found myself checking-out behind the “Coupon Queen.” She had store coupons and super savers, newspaper clippings and jagged-edged magazine ads. In the end, all she bought was peanut butter. Twelve jars, to be exact. She presented the checker with a combination of coupons that dropped the price to $1.00 per jar. She turned red with furry. “It should be 75 cents,” she sneered. The checker pulled out a pocket calculator and crunched numbers. “Actually,” the checker said through a forced smile, “you just need to buy one more jar, and then it will be.” The Coupon Lady started screaming. She didn’t want 13 jars, she wanted 12 . . . and no way in hell would she pay $1.00 per jar.”
The checker held her ground while fighting tears. The woman left angry and without any peanut butter.
It is tragic how small our world becomes sometimes –small enough that toilets are exciting and muddy shoes make us cry. The little things in life can become very big when all we see is ourselves. We can navigate days and weeks focusing only on what we want and when we want it. The focus can become so narrow that when the tiniest of details is misplaced, then we are suddenly screaming about peanut butter and ultimately walking away empty-handed.
When Jesus walked the earth, He stood on a hillside and saw the crowds seeking Him. They came because they heard He could heal their hurts. He saw them coming and He had compassion. He was grieved because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He turned to His disciples and told them to look up and see the people coming. Pray, He said, the needs are great but the workers are few.
I think He would say the same to us today. “Look up.” Allow your world to expand. See the needs and pray. Pray for God to use you as His hands and feet. Start to care and you never know just how much you might walk away with.
It can be overwhelming to look up. The hurt is great. People are suffering. There is death and despair, hunger and hurt. It is not easy to care, but it is a privilege. We can care, because we are cared for. We don’t have to focus on the little things, because we serve a God who focuses on them for us. He counts every hair on our head, attends to all the details in our lives. We are free to look up, to see, and to serve.
My mom would tell you that she prayed for that toilet to come. It mattered to her, so it mattered to God. That’s the vision Jesus tried to give His disciples; He had active compassion on the multitudes and He desired for His disciples to do the same.
Every time I sit on my mom’s toilet, I wish I my feet dangled and I remember how cool my son is. My sister sent me new running shoes hours after the thievery, and all my Facebook friends sent their sympathies despite the pitifulness of that which I mourned. I don’t think I will ever be unkind to another checker, because I have seen the worst of their day. The needs are great, but even the smallest gesture can make a difference.
Today, let your world expand by at least one.