Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Conquest of the World... and Dirty Laundry
All week I avoided the laundry room. As the bathroom is connected to the laundry room, it was extremely difficult. Still, I tried not to notice the monstrous pile of laundry erupting into Mount Everest size. Since mom had just had Josiah, another baby brother, I was in charge of making sure that each day Dad had a clean shirt to wear to work and all the other homeschooling kids didn't look like a bunch of dirty orphans. My job was simple. Vini. Vidi. Vici. ( I came. I saw. I conquered.) But Julius Caesar had it easy. He only needed to conquer the whole world; I needed to conquer an ever evolving heap of laundry.
But each time I strode into the room to wrestle t-shirts into the washer and subdue dirty towels, I remembered that I was not the first to battle laundry. Like Julius Caesar wasn't the first to grapple with the globe, I was not the first to try my wit against laundry; Mom had done it for years before me. She had manipulated laundry long before the day I was born. Even when other circumstances impeded her efforts, she always managed to crack down on the laundry before it overwhelmed her.
In those dark moments when I struggled with the laundry, I esteemed her as a heroine. Even so, just the remembrance of a great super mom was not going to aid my spunk. In other words, simply attempting to conquer the laundry as Mom had done was not going to promote my efforts. First I needed the character it takes to cope with laundry. I needed commitment and perseverance, and only looking at the goal and ignoring the means was a sure path to failure. As we try to attain the accomplishments of our predecessors, we need to first become the person they were before we can do the things they did.
Trying to achieve our ends with this dogmatic approach is very intimidating. Kevin Smith understood this when he remarked, "More often than not, a hero's most epic battle is the one you never see; it's the battle that goes on within him or herself." Before we secure our accomplishments, we must fight where the battle is fiercest, within ourselves. The fruits of our effort will only be an afterthought of this struggle.
Prior to surmounting our nemesis, we first must conquer ourselves. Julius Caesar was not a conqueror when he subjugated the neighboring lands. On the contrary, he became a conqueror when his character defined him as some jockey who thought he could seize the world. Our accomplishments flow from who we really are on the inside.
The writer of Proverbs echoes this idea when he says, "As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man." Our actions and accomplishments are an outflow of who we are on the inside. When Jesus chastised the Pharisees in Matthew 12, He said, "How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil." Again, who we are dictates what we will do.
In the end it goes back to the laundry room. How can we be victorious? It begins with a refocus on the real battle on the front lines within our selves. I will never be a successful laundryman if I cannot embrace the qualities it takes to do it. The real enemy isn't the laundry, it's my self. Instead of acting like conquerors let’s be conquerors.