I have a friend whose body is deserting her. I can almost see the degeneration. Each month she is less mobile, in a bit more pain. You’d never know it by her attitude.
“How are you,” I ask.
“Oh, Lynne, don’t ask.” Then she laughs. “I could be worse. My body has interesting ideas of it’s own.” She laughs again—the most musical laugh I have ever heard. If you could hear her laugh you would want to make a CD of her laughter and sell it to depressed people. You'd make big bucks. Honest, you would.
(I tired to mimic her laugh once, thinking I could change my boring laugh to one like hers. Elizabeth, my eighteen-year-old, looked at me like I’d grown horns. “What’s wrong with you?” she said. I went back to my uninspired non-musical laugh but didn’t do it right then. When your teenager looks at you like that, your desire to laugh is severely hampered.)
So, then my friend, with the musical laugh, changes the subject and tells me something that she has been thinking about—always something upbeat, often something that shows her faith in the Lord and her patience with life. She talks about her family and friends and great ideas. She tells you that you are wonderful and even though you know you're not, because she says so, you believe it. I love talking to her, love being in her home and being her friend. I feel more complete and totally loved when I leave.
So, what could I do to help her? Could I cook her a meal or two? No, I hardly cook anymore and I love to cook—or I used to love to cook. What happened, I wonder to my cooking frenzy that put savory meals on the table every night at 6:00 pm sharp? Phil would like to know, too.
Could I go to her house and tidy up? Should I go for an hour? As I look around my own house I shake my head in wonder. From where I sit I can see a pile of my clothes that used to be hanging overhead in the laundry room. There’s no room for them in my closet because my closet is full of clothes I am going to wear when I’ve lost ten pounds, twenty-five pounds, fifty pounds, etc. You get the idea. The laundry room was my current closet but it became difficult to get to the dryer as my clothes were always fluffing my hair as I loaded or unloaded. I came out looking like a disturbed porcupine. So one day Phil unloaded my laundry-room-closet to the couch and it’s still there. When I need clothes I simply rifle through the stack.
Let’s not even talk about the clutter surrounding the computer. There are stacks of documents I’ve downloaded from the Internet which I fully intend to read and better my life. The latest one is called, “The ‘Genius’ Switch That Turns Disease Off.” (Here’s the URL http://www.drsinatra.com/order/who_knew/index.asp ) I’d order it but it costs $79 for the subscription to his reports and yes, he offers a money back guarantee and says you can keep all the issues but I don’t want to do that. I’d feel like a cheater so I’ll bookmark his site and when I have $79 in excess I’ll send it off.
Then there are the stacks of video’s Phil got out for the grandkids but the grandkids haven’t been here for weeks but there’s two stacks of videos anyway, still waiting.
Phil’s office has migrated to the couch and loveseat and the papers seem to breed after we go to bed. I wouldn’t dare touch any of them for two reasons: He knows where things are and if I moved anything I couldn’t bear to see his devastated face. The other reason is I don’t want anything to do with inanimate objects with breeding abilities. That gives me the shivers. Someone who gets the shivers in a house, that is at this moment seventy-nine degrees, is someone in trouble.
There is one overflowing laundry basket filled with miscellaneous stuff behind the recliners. (Yes, we have recliners—obviously we’re ready for “the home.”) I can’t possible face delving into that laundry basket.
Behind me are some cute little plastic, portable drawers. They are full of things I use occasionally when making a handout for my church calling or making a card that I fully intend to send, but because it looks homemade—not in the good homemade way—I don’t send it. So people who might have known I thought of them or were sorry they were ill or that I might have wished a happy birthday to will never know because the hokey homemade card ended up in the garbage can—which is already overfed.
On top of these nifty drawers is an interesting stack of papers with three books stuffed amongst them and two micro-fiber dust cloths on top. They are there just in case I feel the need to dust—which obvously won’t be today.
Next to the garbage can is at least two reams of paper that is printed on one side that I intend to turn over and use when I am writing a rough draft. In all honesty, I’m not going to do that but it makes me feel better to think I might be thrifty. Someday.
So, how can I go clean someone else’s house when mine is obviously a disaster? Doesn’t charity begin at home? Shouldn’t I start by spending an hour (or four-hundred-thousand hours) cleaning my own house?
Maybe I should send her the URL to that site that promises to cure disease. Do you think that would count as a charitable act? I’m going to think about it. If anyone knows who I’m talking about you should send her the URL to my blog and let her read this and then she’d know how much I really love her and why I can’t go clean her house for an hour—her house is about ten-thousand times tidier than mine anyway. She could send $79 off for the report about curing disease and maybe fix her problems and wouldn’t need my help. We could have a good laugh about it and I’d record her laughter on a CD and sell it on ebay for big bucks and we’d all be better off.