Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spinach and Self-Righteousness

Spinach and self-righteousness. They don't really have much in common. 

Except that my day was full of them.

The day started with the self-righteousness. The Sundays in June are when our church does its yearly Vacation Bible School (VBS). We don't have enough stay at home moms and retired ladies to host a week of daily activities like we did in my church growing up. So we do it on Sunday mornings, in lieu of Sunday School. I'm helping in the craft room this year, following the instruction of a master crafter and helping young children produce her genius craft ideas. (This year, we're making a suit of armor. We did the belt last week and the breastplate today. It's pretty amazing to see what even the 3 year olds can do...)

We were in the middle of our largest class, when one of the little boys suddenly threw up all over the place. He hosed the floor, the table, and his brother. The room was full of mom helpers, so we were all over the situation. Except that we couldn't locate his parents. They dropped off the boys and left. (Sunday brunch perhaps?) And none of us actually knew his parents or how to call them. And the boys didn't know their phone numbers. 

I know these parents to regularly drop off their kids and leave. They don't attend adult Bible study. They don't attend the church service. They take advantage of some free Bible-themed childcare and bolt. And now, they were caught in the act. With a miserably ill son who just wanted his parents to come and take him home. 
"Maybe this will teach them." 
I was feeling pretty smug about all of this. Meanwhile, their poor son was lying on the cool brick of the church courtyard, because it felt nicer than the benches. When the parents finally returned, we handed over one sick son, one healthy son, and a bag with a vomit-covered shirt. And shot daggers with our eyes. Ok, I did. I can't really accuse anyone else of doing so. But I shot enough daggers for all of us.

I was feeling pretty smug and outraged about the situation until late afternoon, when my attention was taken by spinach.

BestestHusband planted quite a bit of spinach for me, and it was ready to come in from the garden. Some of the plants were on the verge of bolting, and we have a warm sunny week coming up. So I brought in this lovely arrangement of spinach.

I was washing the dirt and bugs out in the sink when I realized how grimy I was, too. The smug self-righteousness ("Hmmph. I would never leave my sick kids at Sunday School and sneak off.") that I was actively entertaining throughout the day was like the bugs hiding in the spinach leaves. The bugs were small and few in-between, but until I expelled them from the bunch, the spinach was not fit for eating. And the self-righteous thoughts that filled my mind were polluting me, as well. 

One of my current favorite Facebook pages is Sanctimommy. It's a satire page devoted to laughing at the self-righteous parents out there who look down upon other parents who don't share their parenting philosophies. I derive a great deal of amusement from reading some of the ridiculous and judgemental statements made by other parents, most of them indirectly directed at people like me. (You know, a parent who doesn't slavishly follow the trendy new parenting habits like constant co-sleeping, nursing past toddlerhood, attachment parenting, serving only organic food on a paleo diet, etc.) I figure they deserve my laughing, because judgemental people suck, and if you think you can judge me, then I can laugh at you. 

Except I was the sanctimonious one today. I was the one doing the judging. I suck.

The kids today at VBS were learning about the concepts of Law and Gospel, as they pertain to our relationship with God and the world. "Law" is our mirror, our curb, our guide. It shows us a better God-designed way to live. It keeps us on a path designated by God. It shows us where we go wrong. And it tells us that we will never be perfect. "Gospel" is about grace. It is the reassurance that God loves us anyway, and that Christ washes away our bugs and dirt to make us clean. We will always be full of bugs and dirt, judgement and smugness. But Christ's death and resurrection provides us with the cleansing we need.

And so I'm thankful for smugness and bugs. It's a reminder that I'm not clean, and never will be on my own. And I'm thankful for the Gospel, and the knowledge that faith will be what I need. Because I'm sure tomorrow will bring its own version of bugs and smugs. And my grimy nature will get the best of me again.

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