Word Vomit best describes my impulse to say whatever comes to my mind – no pause button, no filter, no processing, no salt seasoning – pure reaction. It is humorous that the more I learn about what I should or shouldn’t do, the more I am tested in that area. I reflected on my latest hissy fit and concluded: the more I know, the more will be required of me. The sarcastic side of me weighed my options – hit the wall many times because I don’t know better or hit the wall many times because I know better but need to master the lesson. Interesting options. At least in the first scenario I can claim ignorance to remain “innocent.”
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Luke 12:48
The moment I start a diet I am invited to dinners where healthy or low-calorie options are either minimal or nonexistent, everyone has a birthday where I am repeatedly asked to have a slice of the dessert in honor of the celebrant, and of course there is a sale at the grocery store for my favorite cheat treat. The same happens when I pick up a good book. I take notes along the way, do a little dance to celebrate my understanding of the concepts. Easy peasy, of course, I know how to keep it shut! Yes, it makes sense that the tongue has the power to destroy someone. Tsk tsk if only everyone else could control their tongues the same way I am going to. It all makes sense, I can be a good role model for my children, support my fiancé, and I can definitely remain calm when dealing with the lions of life.
Then, I make my way to the bathroom to face my first temptation. Gasp!!! The toilet paper roll on the holder is empty! The roll WITH paper is sitting on top of the toilet. My blood begins to boil. I huff and puff, I call out to God because clearly prayers are needed for the individual(s) involved in the offense – the first who did such a horrid thing and those that followed which continued grabbing from the roll instead of making the EASY 2 second switch. I stay strong, give myself a pep talk to not allow myself to be pushed over the edge by toilet paper. I switch the toilet paper roll – consider this my “service” or “little gift” to my family. I keep my cool despite such a horrid offense and I hear the crowd cheering in my head because I passed my first test.
Simultaneously I start a mental log of my accomplishments and the failures of my household members. As people tick me off throughout the day I shout at the top of my mind how appreciative they should be that I switched the toilet paper roll! If they only knew the wrath that my book lessons saved them from; they should be thankful!! I celebrate my accomplishment, but become resentful that this was a behind the scenes act and no one will ever be aware of my secret struggle.
This silent gift eats at me when the phrases “you don’t care,” “I am going to walk away to show you how to let it go” or “you make a big deal out of everything” are thrown my way. If they only knew how inaccurate these statements are, hello, the toilet paper roll would be a great counter argument right now! I stand there having invisible convulsions caused by the urge to receive credit and be deemed loving for this 2-second act. They would not be saying these things if they knew about the toilet paper, but it’s ok, it’s between me and God. God saw what I did, I’m getting brownie points with the Big Guy, therefore I don’t need their recognition. Looking back I cannot believe I actually called the Big Guy into the toilet paper situation, but hey, clearly I need more help than I care to admit or am willing to recognize (maybe there is some truth in the accusation that I can be a tad dramatic).
It’s common for me to engage in this battle of the mind when I work on self-control. My self-control is a gift to others, however, I conveniently omit the benefits I receive- I gain PEACE! My human nature causes me to make everything I do grander than what it is simply because it is a sacrifice. I see how my gifts help others but fail to consider my own benefits. In the toilet paper example, my narrow-minded thinking sees only that I am saving others from the reprimand they deserve for their oversight. Truth be told I am saving myself the aggravation of a discord over TOILET PAPER! This omission keeps me from saying things I should not say in a moment of anger. It keeps me from having to apologize if this issue leads to a bigger fight. I am blinded from recognizing how I am learning to distinguish between the fights that are worth fighting and the ones I need to let go of. Do I really want to fill my home with negativity over TOILET PAPER? “It’s the principle of it,” my ego dares to shout back. By preventing this nonsense fight I am gifting myself a voice in future fights. Why is it that we need the standing ovation when we make sacrifices no matter how minor? Why is it difficult to do acts of service for our loved ones behind the scenes? Why are we quick to jump into defense mode? At first consideration, it is not evident that my soul is being nourished by practicing self-control and engaging in small acts of kindness like this one, but it is. I am receiving the gift of a loving relationship that won’t be ripped apart by me due to insignificant points.
In my mind, I compared this situation to caring for my daughter. I did not keep tabs of the many diapers I changed or the clothes I had to change out of because of spit-up, vomit, or diaper drippings oozing out on the side. I did not ask my daughter to congratulate me when I survived on little to no sleep at work. Many people are aware of how challenging parenthood is. My reward is found at the very hands of the one I am sacrificing much for, the joy of being a mother. The same goes with self-control. My gift, my acts of kindness, is reaping a loving relationship with the people I love. My gift is promoting a healthy home environment where people are allowed to make minor offenses without a harsh, demanding parent, ready to jump on them every time they drop the ball. My gift is maintaining a loving relationship with my spouse, choosing not to fight over this because there are already plenty of things for us to disagree on. Believe it or not, the toilet paper can still serve its purpose on top of the toilet, it’s just not where I would like it to be (or where it’s intended to be, yes, I needed to add that in there, lol). In the grand scheme of things, is taking 2 seconds out of MY DAY to switch the toilet paper roll that hard? Perhaps I am looking for an excuse to celebrate myself and put others down by pointing out their deficiencies. Maybe this small “act of charity” is giving me a lesson on love.
Thank you toilet paper, you have shown me that there is still much work to do. There are bigger issues to be worked on if I can lose my cool over a minor “offense.” If I cannot handle something as small, and insignificant, as replacing a toilet paper, I clearly cannot face the bigger struggles in life that require self-control. The toilet paper reveals my selfishness. My need for the toilet paper to be in the holder and have other people do things the way I want. I don’t stop to consider that someone rushed out and just didn’t think. I don’t consider the offenses I make that others overlook. I am willing to bring aggravation into the mix without care of how it will affect those around me, I only consider how bothered I am. I am not suggesting that I live all eternity overlooking the toilet paper roll (truth be told, if this is the worst thing I face, I don’t have it bad at all, problem solved in 2 seconds), I am suggesting that I choose to present it in a loving manner, at the right time, with fewer emotions involved, and not allow this to lead to the word vomit trap.
Toilet paper – learned a valuable lesson -I need to roll my sleeves up and get to work on not sweating the small stuff.