A Pepper Grinder Post

I Want to Help!

When I began to write this, I was in the room with my very opinionated 5-year-old grandson.  (News flash: it is not easy to write when you have two grandsons asking you to do this or that with them every 10 seconds or so.)  John is gifted in a number of ways.  He is wiry and coordinated.  He is smart and picks up new skills quickly.  He is very good at anything mechanical. 

He is also quite self-confident.  He rarely misses a chance to give you little lectures and instructional tidbits.  “Avi, you have to be careful with this.  It could scratch you.”  (Avi is what my grandchildren call me.)  What makes this especially amusing is that he uses the exact words and intonation in which I imagine his Mom or Dad said the same thing to him. 

dirty footprintsHe told me repeatedly that he was stronger than me.  Once when we were outside and needed to get something off the roof, he assured me that he could pick up the extension ladder, and then went over and started trying to do just that.  When I reached over and picked it up, he still clung to one end, as if to show that he was doing part of the lifting.

So, I felt a little trepidation when I started preparing to mop the kitchen and John announced that he wanted to help.  Truthfully, I would have rather just done the job myself.  Immediately John began to tell me how you mopped a floor.  He didn’t seem to think much of my idea of getting movable objects out of the kitchen and sweeping first, but he went along with me on that.  Then we filled a bucket with soapy water and got down to business.

I had a newer and smaller mop, John had a mop with a larger head, which he assured me was the better of the two.  However, after we had mopped for a few minutes and he noticed that I seemed to be having an easier time of it, he asked if we could switch mops.  He noticed that I was barefoot and told me earnestly that I needed to wear shoes because I could slip on the wet floor.  I didn’t say much.  I just kept on mopping in my bare feet.

At some point, John looked down at a part of the floor where he had just mopped and noticed two dirty spots the size and shape of his small shoes.  He asked me what those were.  I explained that those were the dirty footprints from his shoes.  The next time I looked over, John was barefoot too.

clean floorEventually we got the job done and the floor looked pretty good.  I must confess that I ended up going over many of the spots where John had mopped.

Two things struck me when I thought about this experience.  One is that I am probably a lot like John in my relationship with God.  When things aren’t going the way I like, my prayers often sound suspiciously like lectures to God on how he ought to do things.  When things are going better, I often blithely assume that I can handle my life just fine without much help or input from God.  I suspect that many of my best attempts to help God are leaving dirty footprints on his floor.

The other is that, speaking from the perspective of being John’s grandfather, I love him.  He definitely annoys me at times, but I can see his good points too.  Even though he made washing the floor harder, I liked it that he wanted to help.  At the end of the day, he is my grandson, and no matter how maddening he is being at any one moment, I love him, I am committed to him, and I will never stop being his Avi. 

And that, I believe, is God’s perspective toward those of us who have become his daughters and sons.  We may be driving him nuts, but we are still his children, and he will always love us.