Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Of Mechanical Pencils and Serving Three-Year-Olds

At one point or another, all of us treasure things that aren't really treasures. We all have our special things - 'stuffies' as my little niece used to call them. Besides the obvious (books, books, books) I really like new mechanical pencils, chewing gum, and specialty hygenic items. These are my stuffies, my affordable treasures, and they are guarded with the fearsome ferocity due them.

Currently I am living in a two-room apartment with five small boys. Five small, rambunctious, curious, and determined boys. My world has shrunk considerably in three days time. Not a huge continent anymore, I'm living a mere speck of an island in a mere speck on an apartment. I rather feel like Alice when she found the 'drink me' bottle.

Reality about living here for two weeks, no privacy, no personal space, and no 'stuffies' has began to sink in.

It all started with my brand new mechanical pencils. (I do have one left. I stowed that one in my suitcase underneath a wet swimsuit. They'll never find it, ahah!) I was loathe to relinquish my brand new pencils to hyper-active drumming fingers. It was as if I could momentarily see the future; no erasers, no lead, probably chewed on. Worse yet, I might never see them again.

Well, I gave them up, but very grudgingly. And I was guiltily hoarding other treasures from small eyes when my eldest nephew put me to shame.

Jonathan brought with him three of the greatest treasures an eleven-year-old can have: comic books. And not just any old comic books; original Marvel comic books. I can only imagine how very precious these things are to him at this point in his life (being in a foreign country with very little familiar around him and only a backpack to call his own.) And yet I observed him graciously mete out one to each of his younger brothers, allowing them to look at them before bedtime. I was stunned. Not that my nephew had bested me in unselfish virtue, but that he had willingly shared, knowing what sticky little fingers could do to the beloved books. (In fact, one did end up with some milk on it, but that is neither here nor there.)

Our American culture is so "me-centered" that whatever belongs to us immiediately becomes something sacred in our eyes. Like humble tools that were believed to have been touched by the gods, we raise pieces of plastic and paper up to exalted positions, just because we esteem ourselves so highly.

When the Bible says to esteem one another better than ourselves, it makes no exceptions. We are the bottom of the totem pole, and every one else comes ahead (yes even that televangelist that you despise or that annoying cousin or the annoying waitress who cussed you out.) (On a random side rant: I'm so sick of hearing, "They are here to serve me," when validifying your actions towards certain people. As a Christian, you are here to serve them. Now act like it.)

For me, that means my impish nephews are to be served first, to have their needs and desires placed above my own. My treasure suddenly loses it's importance when I realize that the real treasures are the souls all around me every day. And likewise, my precious plastic can only become more precious when held in the grubby fingers of someone I am here to serve.

Serving a three-year-old?

Yes, Christianity is amazing isn't it? If we could only let go of our pride and self-worth long enough to grasp it, who knows what impact the glorious revolution of selflessness could have on our world.


Kyleigh said...

Great things to think about... I have so many "stuffies." God's pretty good at keeping us humble, though, even when we think better of ourselves than we should.

Bonnie Faber said...

WOW. Awesome post! I'm linking to you =)