My children have threatened to put “Milk is sticky” on my headstone as a jab since I have repeatedly said this in my many moments of despair whenever one of them has spilled their milk.
It’s true. Milk is sticky, especially when they spill it and think nothing of cleaning it up right away. Or, their best effort is a quick swipe with a napkin thinking this is going to cut it. Oh, that’s Mom’s job. That’s the message I sent every time I raced for the paper towels or dishcloth to minimize the mess.
It took me awhile — slow learner or just trying to save myself from having a larger clean-up job? — but eventually, our mantra, “You make the mess; you clean the mess up” came to reign with spilled milk as well as tracking in mud, boiling noodles over on the stove and eating a snack without using a plate to catch the crumbs.
That’s not to say I don’t still catch myself saying, “Milk is sticky,” but I sure hope they come up with something better to remember me by. Lent is giving me lots of opportunities to reflect on this current “desert-like” season and see areas in my life that need “watering.” If I had to help the kids choose what to put on my headstone, I hope it would be something more like one of the following:
She kept trying.
She was a joy-filled person.
She was always so generous.
She kept trying. She persevered.
“Perseverance” is my word this year. That’s my goal — to never give up, to always keep trying. It’ll probably take me a lifetime to get some things right — like trust, for example — but isn’t that what the Lord wants? To continue to keep trying. To trust in him.
Again and again I try this “going it on my own.” And, again and again, I come up short. Only when I lean into him — and lean on him — does anything make sense. He hasn’t let me down yet. Why do I think he’d start now?
“She was a joy-filled person.” Psalm 34:5 says: Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy. I want others to say, “I want what she’s got,” meaning: I want my source of joy to be visible to others. I want the presence of God to dominate my attitude, my actions, my demeanor. Again, I’m not there yet, so hopefully the Lord will bless me with more fruitful years to get it right.
“She was always so generous.” Nothing makes my heart smile more than when someone appreciates a loaf of bread I give them. If I could spend my days doing nice things for others, what a well-spent life it would be. The gratitude I receive for my little acts of kindness — usually in the form of something baked — bless me way more than the person I give them to.
Lent is a prolonged contemplation of God’s gentle, humble love. Everything I am and everything I do is a result of my faith, my upbringing, the experiences I’ve had and the people who have been and still are a part of my life. It’s a process. Making forward progress is always the goal. Drawing nearer to the Lord is my definition of forward progress.
“She felt God’s love. She shared God’s love.” Something like that would make me rest a whole lot better than “Milk is sticky.”
Kids, are you listening?
Rita Meyer is married and the mother of four children. She and her family are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.