May 25, 2012

The Toilet Paper Roll

I told this story a couple weeks ago at my church, Sunset Presbyterian. It got some laughs and I think it made people think. Hopefully it will have the same affect online. At the very least, you'll understand why there are people who call me, "The Toilet Paper Guy".

One of the most important things in my life right now is finding a new house for my family. We are 6 people, plus a dog and two cats living in a 3 bedroom, 1 bath home. Luckily, we have a huge backyard.
One of the issues that crops up when you have 6 people sharing one bathroom (plus the dog) is a constant shortage of toilet paper. 

There are three states of the toilet paper roll:

The ever-present empty roll. Which says, I am an uncivilized monkey and I do not know how to refill a toilet paper roll. 

The three square roll. It says, it’s not empty! I saved you this tiny bit of toilet paper!

The empty roll with a full roll on top. This says, I made an effort, see?

And finally the elusive and rarely seen full roll. Love this one. Never seen it, but I hope to someday. 
I’ve spent many years reviewing this dialog in my head and muttering profanity under my breath, and then shouting the name of the suspected culprit at the top of lungs. 
There a million things like toilet paper rolls in my house. A million little things that any civilized person would just be outraged by. And when you let each one of those things determine the interactions you have with your family, the result is well, kind of dire. Suddenly, 95% of your interactions are negative. “You did this wrong” “Why can’t you figure this out.” The relationships you have start to erode.  
I’ve spent the majority of the last 18 years of marriage and parenthood finding things like the toilet paper roll to be angry about. The result is that anger has dominated my life and the relationships with the people I love most for almost 20 years. I am a nice guy. Someone you enjoy working with, fun at parties... Definitely not someone who would bully his wife or his young children. I came very close to losing everything I have to my anger. 
I sought counseling, I took deep breaths, counted to 10, I tried so hard to deal with the anger that was affecting my life. But I was just dealing with the symptoms. The surface. 
My anger flowed from an empty space in my heart. I had turned away from God and towards the things of this world. I did not guard my heart against the evil things of this world. They filled my heart and drove my words and actions.
It was not until I let Jesus in to my life, praying that He purify my heart, that I began to feel peace. Nurturing my relationship with Jesus, through prayer, bible study, and serving has done more than suppress the symptoms of my anger. His love has filled that space in my heart and now that love flows from it. 
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The most important way you can serve your family is to be a whole person. Seek out the love of Jesus Christ and embrace it with all your heart. Go for a run, take a class, read a book. Find out what your problems are and seek help. Find out what is amazing about you and make that better. Focus your life on being Christ-like, following his command to love God and love others as He does. Purify your heart so that only love flows from it.
Oh, and if you notice someone has left the toilet paper empty... Just refill it.