by Jennifer Dyer
The other day, Rachel stayed in my bathroom for a bit too long. I opened the door.
Rachel froze, toilet brush in mid swipe…against the wall. Bubbles dripped from splotches on the walls. Blue foam covered the floor. Streaks marked the baseboards. A blue film covered the outside of the toilet. The inside of the toilet, however, was untouched, at least by the brush designed to clean it.
Worse, blue steaks splotched along Rachel’s hands and legs. She tossed the toilet brush and dashed around me. I slipped on the suds, did the splits, then ran after her.
I had to scrub that blue stuff off her body before it burned her skin.
After showering her, I used one of my nice bathroom towels, which had been trampled on the floor earlier, to wipe up the blue foam meant for cleaning the inside of a toilet.
My heart pounded. Yuck! But I clamped my mouth shut and spent some time thinking and praying: If I blow my stack about this, I will create more harm than good. I simply need to train her to scrub the inside of the toilet, not the floors, walls, baseboards, cabinets and outside of the toilet. But at least her newest hobby is cleaning. Thank you God for that…
I also thought about my own spiritual life. Rachel had the right tool to clean the toilets, but she was using it for the wrong purpose, which created chaos.
How often do I misuse tools meant for good?
I have a Bible. Reading it daily provides my soul with much needed wisdom, rest, nourishment, and hope. But what about the other ways I use it? How about when I read a verse and think about how “that other person” is totally failing at that. Or how about when I have judgmental thoughts based on something I read? Even if it is silent, am I not using the Bible, a good tool, for my own selfish ends?
Food and sleep are other areas I might use incorrectly. Both are wonderful, created by God to nourish and replenish us, but what about when I eat or sleep for comfort? Because of stress? Overdo one or the other?
How about anger? This powerful emotion can spur us on to righteousness, can start movements to save oppressed children in terrible circumstances. But it can also be handled incorrectly or even take over other/all emotions, leaving everyone in its path covered with sticky pain similar to our toilet brush incident.
If I had gotten angry with Rachel in that moment, I would have been using a tool in the improper manner in the same way she used that toilet brush.
Instead, I must remember to keep my focus on the long-term goal of teaching her the right ways to act and hopefully demonstrate the love of Jesus to her in a very real manner.
How about you? Are there tools in your life you want to use differently?
I leave you with this thought from the Lead Your Family Like Jesus book coming out in April: