“Sell the painting that’s worth the most,” I coached our eight-year-old grandson.
Methodically, he lifted each small masterpiece in front of him and peeked under them to see their value. He passed over a Cézanne, which I knew was worth ten million dollars because he bought it from me earlier in the game, and picked up The Bedroom by Van Gogh.
“Not that one,” I urged a little too strongly.
Fred caught the puzzled look on our grandson’s face.” Let him do what he wants.”
“Yeah, Mom. That’s how he’ll learn,” our son added.
“I want to sell this one,” the eight-year-old declared proudly and revealed the Van Gogh’s value: 2.5 million. I groaned inwardly, feeling utterly helpless.
By the time we tallied up the score and announced the winner, our grandson had already moved on to something else. Although he didn’t win, he ended up receiving full value for the Cézanne, despite my advice.
During a bike ride, I ruminated on my overreaction to the game. Once again I faced my unattractive tendency to micromanage. What’s underneath it? I asked God and lifted my life to take a peek.
Eventually the answer came: fear of making mistakes. As soon as I named it, I recalled the words of Wendell Berry in last week’s post:
“I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me
or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises.”
I slowed down to ride over a bump on the road and gritted my teeth, anticipating the slight twinge in my jaw. I regretted for the umpteenth time having eaten the piece of toffee that caused it. This was something the dentist warned me not to do after putting a crown on my molar.
Never mind, the Spirit reminded me, Life comes by way of mistakes and surprises. Trust me in this. It’s going to be fine.
I’ve spent a good part of my life either avoiding mistakes or regretting them. Meanwhile God, who is full of love mischief, surprises me with life in them. You can’t lose, the Mischief Maker promises and moves me on.
For all of us make many mistakes. –James 3:2
∗ ∗ ∗
Love Mischief for the World
When I asked my friend Theresa if she would make soup for the Wednesday Lunch Club she gave me an enthusiastic YES! and told me this story. “A few years ago, I finally got a job as a sous chef in a fancy restaurant in Vancouver, something I had worked toward for a long time. We used only the best parts of the freshest vegetables to make our soup stocks and threw out the rest. I had to throw out a lot of good food that could feed many families. On my way home on transit, I passed the Downtown Eastside and saw people who were poor and malnourished. I cried all the way home–for them and for me, because I knew I couldn’t keep working in that restaurant. That’s why I’m so glad now to be making good nutritious soup for people who really need it.” –Theresa Lum, Burnaby, B.C.