As I reached into my kitchen drawer last weekend, I found yet another curly straw shoved in among the utensils along with a handful of cheap, regular, plastic straws.
These are a pet peeve of mine, as straws appear everywhere in my home — inside almost every cup my children use, on the bottom of my dishwasher, and shoved messily into drawers.
They are often the cause of spills in my house as kids reach for them and they tip a cup over. My reaction as I saw this straw stuffed in my drawer was to pick it up and throw it away, being the nuisance that is was to me. I realize this may sound ridiculous to some of my readers. But if you are a parent, think of an irritant you have experienced in relation to your children and put this lesson into that context.
As I looked at that straw, I had an overwhelming urge to toss it — and all other straws — into the trash. I began to reach for the straw. Then I stopped myself, thinking these straws mean a lot to my kids. It would be self-centered for me to throw it out.
It is funny how God works sometimes. These straws forced me to look at another’s viewpoint. My thoughts immediately went to times people had given no regard to my own feelings — a daily devotional that was important to me that was thrown out because another regarded it as “old,” a purse that was unpacked from a suitcase because someone thought I would not need it on vacation. In my straw “epiphany,” I realized I do not want to treat others that way and placed the straw back in the drawer.
I then accepted God’s small tutorial to me and searched my memory for a Scripture that backed up this personal lesson. I immediately reflected upon Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Yes, we are to love others as ourselves, caring about their perspectives, desires, likes, dislikes and opinions. To not do so is egocentric. It is a natural expression of our love for God to love others and respect what is important to them. But our sin nature often causes us to think about our own desires. Sometimes we do not even take the time to recognize that an irritant is really us focusing on our own needs instead of the wishes of others. I remember the time I heard an older pastor tell of how he used to get irritated when his wife parked the car a certain way. He would always make a remark about it to her. One day, God showed him that his wife’s feelings were more important than his need for perfection in the driveway. From that day on, he never commented on how the car was parked. He realized the way his wife parked the car was not harmful, it simply was not his way. He also admitted he had done damage to his wife with his constant criticism.
So as I looked at that annoying curly straw, I realized that I could wound my children by showing them that their desires did not matter. I would have found some relief in throwing the straws in the trash and not being irritated by them every time I opened the drawer. But I also could have shown my kids that I am inconsiderate, because those straws are not doing any damage in my drawer.
So I chose my children’s feelings. Because of this, I found it easier this past weekend to think about how others might feel before I spoke as well. Other people are important. They count to God — who asks us to love them as ourselves.
The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Holy House Ministries c/o the Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, 9641 Tujunga Canyon Blvd., Tujunga, CA 91042.