After Hurricane Ian hit our area last week, a lot of things were closed including schools. That poses an issue for parents who work in critical areas like emergency services since they have nowhere for their kids to go. The couple that lives across the street have two boys, ages 13 and 6. Both parents have jobs that required them to report quickly once the storm passed which meant they needed childcare. Since there weren’t many options in battered Lakeland that week, Eric and I tagged in.
It’s been awhile since we had kids that young, so we geared up to entertain two young boys for hours. We got out all the video games, train sets, and snacks we could muster. I have my very own Nintendo Switch (#coolmom) so we played Mario Kart and Mario Party too. (#gamer) Then we built train tracks with the little one while the older one played 2k17 on Austin’s Xbox. We were rocking this childcare thing.
That is until the little one looked up from his Thomas the train activities and asked, “Why is your floor so dirty?”
That sound you heard was all the air in the room surging into my lungs as I gasped in horror. This six year old was a white-glove-wearing home inspector. I quickly and quite aggressively began defending the level of cleanliness of my home.
“Well see, we had our daughter, her husband and their golden retriever in the house for the past 24 hours. Since they live in a second floor apartment, they didn’t feel safe staying there during the hurricane. So all those footprints you see are from their dog.”
Why was I explaining all this as if I was on the witness stand? He went back to playing, apparently satisfied with my defense.
Not a dog person, having a dog IN MY HOUSE for even a day was a huge thing for me. For nearly a week prior to the hurricane’s arrival, I dealt with an internal struggle between their safety and my comfort as I wrestled with whether they should stay with us. In the end, I caved. It was difficult. It was rewarding. It caused me to stress. It made me feel proud. In the end, I sacrificed my needs for the greater good.
Yes, I’m dramatic. But cleanliness is next to Godliness. That’s gotta be in the Bible somewhere, right? (While the exact phrase is actually not found in the Bible, the concept is clearly expressed.)
Sometimes we need to put aside our needs to help others even if it’s hard, even if we have other plans, even if it means we have to clean a little more afterward. Helping our neighbors with childcare meant they could focus on taking care of others and assisting the city of Lakeland in recovery. Helping our kids by giving them a safe place to stay meant they had peace of mind during a nerve-racking situation. It may have been stressful for me at times, but I was blessed by the small sacrifices. I may not have been the one taking care of the city streets or taking care of patients in the hospital, but I could certainly take care of some kiddos and give shelter to a doggo.
As Christians, we are called to look out for our neighbors and even put their needs above our own. This isn’t easy and certainly doesn’t always come naturally, especially in today’s “me-centered” culture. To most this may even seem counterintuitive. But in all actuality, when we put aside our own needs to meet the needs of others, we become the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s exactly what we were called to be. (Now brace yourself because this next sentence is big.) If Jesus can lay down his life for me in the ultimate sacrifice, I can let a dog roam my living room and take care of a couple sweet kids for a day. And I didn’t do it just for an imaginary gold star by my name. It was actually pretty rewarding!
I was feeling really good about myself until we took the boys for a walk later that afternoon. Walking by my car, the little one asked…Why is your car so dirty?