The world of microbiology was opened up to me in college. Bacteria! They were everywhere, especially in the mouth!
Through the years, I have worked in a few different disciplines, but have always gravitated back to the dental field. Needless to say, I developed a penchant for cleanliness!
I was one of those mothers who made sure my children’s hands and faces were always clean. While five little noses were judiciously wiped, and coughs or sneezes covered, it was unthinkable that other mothers could be so totally oblivious to the snot-bubbles sliming their children’s faces.
Others had no problem whatsoever picking up their baby’s pacifier from the ground, putting it in their own mouths and sucking it clean, before delivering it to a screaming baby! Didn’t they see what was on that thing? Ugh! My germ-alert immediately roared and my stomach rebelled! Of course, spit-washing a kid’s face was totally out of the question for me!
Not that I turned my children in to clean-freaks or anything, but a healthy appreciation for a more hygienic environment was developed. I must say, we suffered fewer incidents of illness than many of my friends’ children.
Even with our favorite game of bowling, we were careful to wipe down the borrowed balls and shoes handled or worn by anyone who had to rent equipment.
One evening, after a hard day at home-schooling, I rewarded my children with a surprise trip to the bowling alley! Excitement ensued when they found out that we’d be eating there as well. Busy as it was, we all crowded around one little table in the restaurant area. It was a mess! We cleared it the best we could and waited for one of the high-school girls to come over. Nuts! It appeared that they were all getting off at the same time. Finally, when no one came, we went to the counter and requested a wipe-down.
Minutes later, a scruffy, frizzy-haired lady with rounded shoulders, sporting the overall look of an unkempt backwoods mama, sauntered up to our table.
“S-matter”, she croaked as the putrid smell of stale smoke offended our nostrils.
We showed her the table. Struck with horror at what happened next, my kids’ faces froze in disgusted revolt. You know, I could have sold those looks to a sci-fi show!
Our scroungy waitress whipped out an old, well-used red kerchief from her backside, spit on the table and began to wipe! She really worked at it. She spit again!
Gasping, the kids instinctively drew back, eyebrows raised! The woman studied the table, turned on her heel headed for the kitchen doors as if everything was okay now!
“Maaawwmmmm ---- Ewwww….”, was all the kids could say. I was dumbfounded. Was that lady for real?
Poor thing. I think she was! I also think that it was probably the only job she could get. It distressed greatly me to think that she might also be handling food.
Appetites gone, the kids and I lost no time. We gathered our stuff and bolted down to our reserved alley! A few minutes into the game, they forgot all about the incident. Not me! I kept rolling it over in my mind. Cootie-lady could certainly use some prayer. I wondered if God asked me to hug her right then, if I could do it. I concluded that I could, but I would have to run right home and shower. It’s funny now, but those were serious thoughts for me then!
For years, it was a joke at our house whenever someone was asked to wipe down the table before a meal.
“Sure”, they’d say! “I’ll just spit on it!”
Jesus healed a blind man’s eyes. He spat in the dirt, made mud, put it on the man’s eyes and then told him to go wash. You know, I’ll admit, I have really had to consider whether or not I would have allowed Him to do that to me.
Spit? Dirty mud? On me? That would have taken some concerted effort on my part!
We all have filters through which we view things. God has brought this simple incident to my mind many times when I faced a challenge that abused my senses …..or even my sense of civility.
Once, while I was handing out food and clothing, a very smelly woman staggered in front of me and woman purged herself on my shoes. Later, some people mentioned to me that the way I handled myself, and her, showed God’s Grace to everyone else waiting in line. Honestly, it was all I could to keep my own lunch down.
Years ago, a pastor declared, “Nancy you will hug the leper.”
Shuddering at the thought, I recoiled from his words. I never did well with putrefying smells! Have I learned? Yes. That doesn’t mean that it ever gets easier, but obeying God does, and He provides His Grace for the situation.
So you may wonder……Have I relaxed a little since then?
Not on your life!
I like things clean and sterile! BUT...God has energized both my husband and I to enter the lives of the not-so-lovely now and again, so that they can see Jesus.
I just keep the baby wipes handy!!