Tolerance is either a dirty word or a goal to pursue, depending on the context and your personal political flavoring. I try hard to accept others as they are and sometime I make progress. I certainly don’t want to be the curmudgeon living in the spooky house on the corner and scaring all the kids.
It has been good for me to be married and have children. My ladies help me chose those things that matter and those I can ignore. Today, Shawn and I had books on hold at the library. She had another appointment in a different direction so I asked for her card. My plan was to pick up her books as I grabbed mine. The rain was pouring and I had several books to return. I felt the best course of action was to load the returns into the bag Shawn uses on library day. I started for the door then noticed the writing on the front and stopped to read it.
There was a time I would have refused to carry such a bag. Some might say I am getting mellow in my old age but the truth is I have too many issues bouncing around the gray matter to worry about the bag. My concern was getting the books into the library without baptizing one in a puddle. Mission accomplished. Thanks for loaning me your handy bag, Shawn! That’s women’s ministry in action.
I think tolerance started to develop for me when I became a father. The last thing I wanted to do before leaving for work in the morning was hug those babies. The risk was leaving home with cereal, slobber, milk, or some unidentified sticky substance smeared on my shoulder. Once in a while a kind co-worker would point out “John, there is something on your shoulder.” I would freak out and run to the restroom to wet it down and scrub it off.
After I became an experienced Dad and my tolerance muscles grew stronger, the interaction was slightly different. Here’s a sample transcript.
Kind co-worker: “John, you have something on your shirt.”
John: (scrapping it off with his finger and popping it into his mouth) “Tastes like oatmeal. Boogers are saltier.”
Kind co-worker: “Ack! Gag!” (running toward the restroom)
I’ve eaten crackers flavored with baby drool. One daughter ate the filling out of a row of Oreo cookies, stuck the outsides together and stuffed them back into the bag. I think that’s called double stuffed but could be wrong. I was on my fifth cookie before I realized they were slightly damp and missing a key element of the flavoring.
I’ve turned up water bottles with kid backwash swimming laps inside and was glad to have the refreshment. One of my daughters helped Momma pick a new lunch box for daddy. It was a pink and white lunch box with fluorescent green trim. Shawn maintains her position it was the only color in the store. After the initial shock wore off I became philosophical. There’s food inside. Who cares about the color?
The challenge for me is picking out the things that really matter while ignoring the others. There are far too many issues to resolve every one. And I am discovering a nap after lunch has a positive impact on my tolerance level.
Copyright © 2013, John W. Nichols. All rights reserved.