She didn’t do it on purpose, but when my granddaughter Adeline spilled the green, plastic ornament hangers on the floor next to the tree, I asked her to pick them up. I guess that’s a lot to ask of a four-year-old who is focused on finding just the right spot for each bright, shiny ornament.
Before I could stoop to pick up the pile of small, tangled wires, Adeline spun around, took a step, and slipped on it. Fortunately she didn’t grab onto the tree as she went down. As I bent to pick up the child and the mess, I thought, “You trip over stuff you don’t clean up.”
Whether it’s spilled milk, extension cords left in the middle of the floor (over which my granddaughter Olivia tripped), or words that should have been left unsaid, messes need attention. And I’ve learned that if I was the one who created the mess, I need to initiate the clean-up.
With regards to relationships, rather than ask for, or grant, forgiveness to the person involved, it’s often tempting to talk to others about a sticky situation. Whether it’s accidental or intentional, if I’ve created the mess or I’m just near to it, I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. To ignore it is to invite continued trouble.
Paul’s instructions to early Christians is still valid. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17, 18
This Christmas season, the season of giving, I’m taking a good look at my heart to see if there’s any mess that needs to be straightened out.
Ronny may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.