Goldfish Crackers and Cranky People

God never looked in your mirror or mine and wished He saw someone else. — Bob Goff

Walking in virtually all conditions is now a standard part of my daily routine during this time of collective isolation. Salvation of mental health aside, I find if I merely spend most days walking the approximate distance of a half marathon, I am able to very nearly balance out the calories from my goldfish cracker consumption. Are the Pepperidge Farms people conspiring with satan? Well, duh! Stoppage of the forced marches causes a precipitous and immediate spike on the bathroom scale. Curtailed use of goldfish as a sedative seems to result in temptation to alternative forms of debauchery, so here we are.

Moderation has never been my area of giftedness.  I’m more naturally blessed with volume and melodrama.  So, I believe I will stick with the crackers and traipsing combo for now.  I’ve decided to be a little gentle with Shelly and not try to win this coronavirus “thing” we are all experiencing.  I’m doing the best I can.  If you’re living your best life during the pandemic, I am thrilled for you, I really am.  We’re doing fine over here, but this is NOT me at my very best. 

For instance, I went to wake my youngest son so he could log in to some high school online classes shenanigans at 9am the other morning. I looked like Medusa, and I was in a tank top and yoga pants that I still had on from the day before. “It’s time to get up,” I groaned. “What’s the deal, Mom? You don’t look great.” I quite agreed with him, and I began laughing aloud at myself as I spoke the thought I’d be wrestling with since I woke to the gray day. “Well, it’s raining, so what’s the point of living, really?” Then, Zach and I began to cackle at how pathetic I looked and sounded. Tom came bounding upstairs to see what fun he was missing. I’m not sure our explanation did anything but confuse him. Up until now, I might have been tempted to label myself as a poor parent with a negative attitude, but today I see the value in modeling something else. Learning to laugh at oneself is a very vital life skill, after all. I’m choosing to believe Z saw that.

A couple weeks ago, some friends and I decided the connection with one another felt a bit strained because of our inability to lay eyes on each other.  So, we’ve followed the lead of the rest of the world and moved our friendship to Zoom.  Seeking some sort of organization to keep us on track, my dear friend Chris suggested a book club.  We are currently in the middle of a very slow reading of the book Everybody Always.  Despite of the fact that he’s an attorney, the author is a positivity hero of mine, Bob Goff.  I plan to tell him that in person someday.  I’m not sure how that’s going to happen, but this guy has so inspired me to try and become love in my own life by following the lead of Jesus that I plan to find a way…but I digress. 

The book suggestion was mine. Actually, I wanted the girls to read his first book, Love Does. I keep giving it to people who I think the Holy Spirit sends me that need to hear from Bob. You see, his message is challenging, but accessible. I think his crazy stories lead folks to the Lord. That isn’t the best part, though. Bob is the kind of guy who makes you want to add “up until now” at the front of your sentences. He doesn’t say it that way in his books exactly, but that’s what I hear. He thinks big and steps out there to meet Jesus. It’s scary on the ledge trusting Christ with our lives. You see, we all seem to listen to this interior voice from time to time that says we aren’t good enough, or we are failures, or we just can’t do this. I think we need to re-think things at this moment in time and add the phrase “up until now” to the start of our negative self-talk sentences. Are we or are we not made in the image of the Lord? That fact alone makes us the beloved children of the Most High God.

 The girls wanted me to read something with them that I had never read before.  So, I lied and told them I hadn’t read Bob’s second book, Everybody Always.  Well, I didn’t lie exactly, I just led them to assume I hadn’t read it.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself since my heart was in the right place and the confessionals all have a “closed for business” sign on them right now. 

Here’s what happened at last week’s meeting.  We decided to choose an activity and put love in action this week.  The challenge was to identify a neighbor that perhaps we didn’t know, or (if feeling particularly brave) someone we find particularly off putting and reach out to them.  Nothing works to create peace of mind and heart quite as well as selflessness.  I chose a crabby older couple that lives across the street.  We’ve lived here 6 years and I couldn’t even come up with their names.  It’s really not okay.  Mostly, they seem to dislike us because Nick Fred parks his old clunker on the street near the end of their driveway. 

So, I wrote them a note and included a little care package.  I apologized for not getting to know them sooner, asked about how they were doing, and I offered to run errands for them during this crazy time.  My cell phone number along with some chocolate wrapped in yellow ribbon accompanied the kind letter, in which I shared some details about our children and our lives.  I even addressed the car situation, explaining how I regretted the angst the vehicle was causing them but explaining why it was the safest option available to us and how Nick will be permanently moving out of state in a month. 

Transformative moments like this little one from my week always remind me about the power of selfless love.  When I sprinkle love on someone else, expecting nothing in return, I nearly always find the same interior result.  That is, when I let go of my judgements and ego, then I start to like who I’m becoming.  Feedback or outcome didn’t matter, because this was about loving others more in practical ways.  It made me seek out other opportunities all week long. 

Are you wondering what happened with my neighbor? I’ll allow it. When we were out in the driveway shooting hoops, Dave from across the street came out to chat. He smiled at me, and we kind of agreed to disagree on the location of the car. Later, he sent a text telling me about himself and his wife, and he thanked me for offering to help them out.

That was nice, and it felt good.  The thing is, that part doesn’t matter.  Not really.  It was never really about Dave and Nancy.  It was about me and the Lord.  No matter who I think I am, or where I am on my road of faith, God can use me.  Up until now, you might not have thought He could make use of perfectly imperfect you, but He can.

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