Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I am the sun, and everything revolves around me.
- Teresa, Queen of the Solar Sisters

Have you ever met a goddess? I have. Actually, I used to be one. Sometimes even now, in a moment of nostalgia, I climb back onto my marble pedestal and imagine the glowing adoration of throngs of worshippers. Maybe you've worshipped at my temple. Or, maybe you are a goddess, too, and have a temple of your own! But wait: let me tell you how I discovered my own divinity. Maybe my story will help you discover yours.

Sitting at the kitchen table, skillfully crafting a pair of pants for my husband, I regarded my situation with contentment and a certain degree of smug self-satisfaction. After sending Steve off to the university with a shower of affectionate kisses and a lovingly-prepared lunch, I had spent the early morning hours setting my temple in order. I mean, cleaning our apartment. The bathroom was fresh and sparkling, the carpets vacuumed, and all of the laundry washed, folded, and put away. I even had to admire the order and cleanliness of my kitchen cabinets as I fixed lunch for myself and my two darling toddlers.

After lunch, these intelligent and talented temple servants . . . uh, children . . . entertained me with their songs and games, and I condescended to bless them with a story or two. Early in the afternoon, they retired cheerfully and quietly to their monastic cell to rest and contemplate the beauty of the life I had provided them. I had at least an hour now to devote to constructing priestly garments for my husband. So there I sat, sewing and smugly contemplating the kingdom around me, a kingdom which I ruled and directed like a queen among the gods.

Then came the incident of the welt pocket. What is a welt pocket? Look at the back of a pair of men's pants - say, a pair of khaki Dockers. A welt pocket is not a patch pocket, like on the seat of a pair of jeans, but a sort of hidden pocket which opens to the inside at a narrow slit in the fabric.

I was in the process of constructing just such a pocket in the back of the pants I was making - not an easy task, but I was being very patient and careful and attentive to my sewing instructions. All of my concentration and effort finally produced - TA DA! - a huge, ragged, gaping hole. A wolverine could've produced a neater opening. The pants were completely ruined, and I was suddenly transformed from a sublime goddess to a raving demon. I had tried so hard! I had followed the directions so precisely!

As I wrestled with which course to take next - crying or cursing - I suddenly became aware of hysterical laughter coming frm the room overhead. Not the playful laughter of innocent children, but the insane hysteria of a sinner, or two, who has defied a diety. Muttering angrily to myself - Only a god or a magician could make welt pockets! - I wadded up the unfinished slacks, threw them across the table, and bolted for the stairs.

With one child in diapers and another in frequently damp training pants, I bought Desitin diaper rash ointment in the 14-ounce economy tube. If you don't know, Desitin is made from some kind of fish oil extract, and reeks of . . . well, of oily fish. It is also very thick and greasy, like the stuff used on tractor axles. I think the only two things that can cut through Desitin are pee and gasoline. Reaching the top of the stairs, I opened the bedroom door to find NOT two quietly resting cherubs, but two squealing banshees. Emily and Reuben had completely coated themselves with Desitin. Every inch of exposed skin was painted with the opaque white goo - a whole 14-ounce tube of it. The front of their dresser had also been painted. And the back of the door. And an area of the carpet. My pristine temple had been defiled!!!

Nearly choking in rage and frustration, I dragged the shreiking offenders to the bathroom, stripped them bare, and plopped them into the tub. Several severe scrubbings later, they were finally free of the goo, but not the odor of fish oil. Then I tackled the challenge of cleaning their room. After a tremendous amount of effort and sweat, I at last headed downstairs with an armload of stinky, sticky laundry, my penitent darlings trailing behind.

Our washer and dryer were in a closet opening off the kitchen. Brushing past my sewing fiasco, I pulled open the bi-fold doors and stuffed the offending laundry into the washing machine. Well, at least I'd gotten the worst of that mess cleaned up before Steve came home. Maybe I could salvage the rest of the afternoon.

Or maybe not. As I turned to leave the churning washer, I bumped a gallon jug of liquid bleach that was sitting on top of the dryer. Do you know what happens when you drop a full gallon of Clorox from a height of three feet onto a concrete slab floor? Something more amazing than you could possibly imagine. That jug exploded like a bomb. Clorox flew everywhere . . . all over the laundry closet, all over the kitchen, all over my two stunned onlookers, all over me. As the fumes began to burn my nose and eyes, I took the only reasonable course of action left at this point. I sat down on the bleach-splattered floor and sobbed. My wide-eyed children timidly came closer, wrapped themselves around me, and began sobbing, too.

Life did eventually return to some relative degree of sanity at our house, but I was left with a very difficult question: Why had the events of the day so devestated me? Instead of calmly handling each crisis as it arose, as a goddess would no doubt have done, I had quickly plummeted from frustration to anger to despair. What was up with that?

A good bit of honest, painful self-examination eventually revealed the horrible truth: I was guilty of idolatry, and my idol was me. I was a wonderful wife and the mother of two beautiful, obedient children. Selah. I was industrious and clever and thrifty and made fine garments for my husband. Selah. I kept a spotless, well-run house. Amen, and amen! My delight and my joy, my rest and my satisfaction, my adoration were all based on and reserved for the great god Me.

As on so many occasions before and since, I found myself prostrate before the cross. Oh, God, I have turned from worshipping you and have followed after other gods. The worst of it is, I have worshipped myself and the work of my own hands. Have mercy . . . have mercy!

God is a jealous God, but He is also good. He is faithful to expose and root out even the sins to which our own eyes are sometimes blinded. And, He is gracous to forgive and quick to restore His faltering children. Jehovah is the all-powerful, ever-sufficient God of the sewing machine, God of babies and baby creams, God of hearth and home. I cannot stand - nor can any other would-be deity - I cannot stand above Him. And, I don't sew welt pockets.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Ooooh, Camille. I hate this post. I love this post. No, I hate it. No, I love it.