Thursday, February 4, 2010

What a Wonderful World This Could Be

♫ If you chance to meet a frown . . . ♫

It was supposed to be fun. We were making pictures of root beer floats after we'd enjoyed the real thing.

Each of the girls had a drawing of a mug, 10 cotton balls for the foam, a pink striped straw and a glue stick. There were three brown crayons: two fat ones, and one skinny one. That's when the problems started—Lucy's crayon was different.

After a few tears and a talk about compromise, they started coloring. But two of the crayons "drew dark" and the third "drew light." Another chance to discuss, advise, and work things out. The final straw was when Jess' straw didn't stick because her glue was stuck. She pouted that she "didn't even care." Life just isn't fair.

To reassure us all, we ended the activity with a spontaneous game called I Know Why I Love You. The tears were dried, the pictures collected and everyone felt better.

As we walked down the hall to meet their moms, they seemed a little wiser. I asked if it had been a fun Oma Day. Lucy said, "It was pretty good, even though there were problems."

I "don't know much about history" but I do know that throughout history life has created problems, and problems create wisdom.

I wonder, if I could see my own problems in perspective, would they even matter? Friends have fatter crayons, neighbors have stickier glue. And whoever doled out the cotton balls was not being equal. There's a lot of the 4-year-old left in me, pouting, feeling picked on, comparing everyone's stacks of stuff. The stuff varies with the seasons, but whether it's a romance, snazzy car, ritzy house, well-paid job or doting family, I could still look around and find mine lacking in comparison.

Or I could turn the other way, and see the people who might be coveting my little slice of life, and demonstrate truths that might improve theirs: a positive outlook, experiences that lead to wisdom, secrets for a happy marriage. When I secretly make such an offer, it must be well hidden in a sincere desire to help, free of superiority or judgment. Even 4-year-olds recognize a superiority complex. "You're not the boss of me!" While we can't change the pompous folks, we can make sure we eliminate that tendency when we're sharing our blessings.

My little girls sang a sweet song as they scampered towards their moms.

♫ "Jesus said, Love everyone, treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love, others will love you." ♫

If I took the long, confusing problems of adulthood, and applied this simple truth from a 4-year-old, would the world be less complicated?

It's too overwhelming to think about how to fix the whole world. But we can improve our own little worlds by forgiving and loving those closest to us. We could share, revel in our differences, color our friend's fence brown, and then offer him a root-beer-float and admire our handiwork with eyes full of gratitude. What if a lot of people did that? As the song says, "What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be."


~Look for a way you could encourage, support, or actually lend a hand to help someone else this weekend.

~Everytime a fit of envy tickles your nose, turn the other way and notice what you've got that others might benefit from. Figure out a way to share it patiently and gratefully, with no expectation except that you'll learn something from the experience.

~Pray about the problems you're having. The scriptures say to pray with intent. Intent to what? An intent to follow the inspiration you get, to obey the promptings you feel. My 60 years of expertise in this area tells me that the answer will usually have to do with serving somebody else. And it's the quickest way to "turn a frown upside down and smile that frown away."

Follow the
Plan of Happiness


Linsey said...

Have you always been this wise? I hope so for your sake, but I'm feeling a little er, envious ;) of your wisdom and hoping mine will improve with time.

I love the idea of making a souvenir that represents their visits with Oma, how very special.

Christie said...

Linsey, she has always been this wise. Truly. We are lucky to have her.

Katie H said...

I love this. And needed it today, as I woke up feeling ultra sorry for myself. ;) Thanks for bringing me to my senses, or rather, knees.

Linda said...

This is an insightful post. It reminds me of the illustration about heaven and hell--both scenes are set with a bountiful banquet table and people with extra long spoons. The people in hell are snarling and hungry because the spoons are too long to feed themselves no matter how hard they try. The people in heaven are happy and satisfied because the people are all feeding each other. I love the way you share your wisdom and insight with us! BTW--thank you for stopping by my blog earlier this week--I responded to your comment on my blog, and it just occurred to me that I should have responded here so you would see it!

gab said...

I want skinnier crayons.

And a root beer float.

kenju said...

I vote for turning the other way!!

Someday I hope you will compile and publish all these wonderful "how to" posts!!

Michelle said...

you are the best. And I need to email you....

Abby said...

What a great post and funny story. Thanks for putting things in an easy light to see what is truly important.