When I was a child, my mother was fond--FOND--of making lists: wish lists (which I've written about before), grocery lists, things to pack, and particularly, chore charts. Those ubiquitous chore charts often seemed longer than the hours in the day and made us groan when we saw them...every Saturday morning. You'd think, by the sound of it, that our house was spotless, but, alas, because the chores were handled by children, such was not the case. I don't know if you know this, but children have a way of skimming the edges, so to speak. At least we did. Doing the least amount of work necessary to get that chore checked off on the list. It wasn't like Mom walked around with white gloves on checking on us, after all (I can hear my siblings snorting at the very idea!).
As I grew older, I didn't need Mom's lists to make me do some of those chores. I vacuumed because the floor was dirty, not because it was on some list Mom had tacked on the fridge. But here's an interesting quirk of my personality: I never minded doing a chore, but the instant I was told to do it, I suddenly resisted. I could have gotten out the vacuum, had it plugged in, and was ready to turn it on, and if my mother yelled at me from the kitchen to, "vacuum the stairs, please!" I wanted to rip that cord out of the wall, and go find something else to do. And this was when I was in college, or a married mother, visiting with my children.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I read an email from an old friend. She'd heard I might be down in her neck of the Pacific Northwest woods soon with Grampie and Thyrza and said she'd love to see me. I was a little mystified that she'd heard such a thing, but wrote her back that I'd love to reconnect. Then last night, Beve told me that Grampie and Thyrza have arranged for us to take them to Olympia on July 6th to see some mutual friends. Without consulting us. It's already set, a done deal. Just get into our assigned places in the car and off we go, thank you very much. And suddenly, though our calendar is free and I have every reason to go--seeing my friend chief among them!-- I feel like ripping the cord from the wall, so to speak, and stomping away. A moment earlier, I would have been happy to take them, but being told I'm doing it? YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!
I realize this all stems from those chore charts on the refrigerator and my lack of choice as a child, but it also reveals something essential about my true self. My selfish self. The self that wants to do what I want when I want to do it, rather than at someone else's behest. Even if I had the same idea a few seconds before. I like to think I'm different from those stiff-necked Israelites, but you know what? I'm NOT. I choose me all the time.
The thing is, me gets me in trouble. That old adage, "My way or the highway?" That's the way of sin, friends. The times I stomped away and didn't vacuum the floor? Dirt piled up. That's what happens, you know. Dirt piles up when we selfishly choose ourselves at the cost of others. If I stomp away this time and refuse to go, Beve (who is a better person than me) will still go, and I will only hurt myself. And that's the other thing. We tend to hurt ourselves by demanding our own way. At least ourselves. Those are the consequences: dirt, pain and maybe both.
Is it worth it?
Guess I'll be busy July 6th.