Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pesky Obsessions

I finished a jar of peanut butter this morning while packing my wife's lunch.  This was a pretty big jar - 40 oz., down to its last PB&J sandwich worth of peanut butter.

As I was reaching down into the cavernous depths of the jar through the wide mouth opening, I wondered if I should break out the spatula.  For one thing, I don't like getting peanut butter on the handle of the knife - much less on the back of my hand as I work to scrape out the last smears of peanut butter.  Besides that, the spatula will clean that jar out slick as a whistle.

Here is where I begin to struggle with my obsessions.  I feel like I must use every last drop of peanut butter out of this big jar.  But I have two more of these jars - brand new and full to the brim with peanut butter - just waiting in the pantry closet.  And I have enough peanut butter on the sandwich already - even by my somewhat obsessive standards it is a nice even layer of brown covering every bit of the two pieces of bread.

I resolved the issue by deciding that even if the jar was not as empty as a spatula might get it, it was as empty as a table knife could get it.  I threw the (relatively) empty jar in the trash and wiped the peanut butter off the back of my hand with a paper towel.

This drama was over in five minutes - and it wasn't even an extra five minutes.  It was just the normal five minutes that it takes to make a sandwich for Lola in the morning.  But it made me think about how easy it is to give emotional energy to things that don't really matter.  (Did I throw out one peanut or two?)

It would be easy to obsess about the fact that I threw out the jar.  Why not recycle it?  And it was a plastic jar - why didn't I buy a glass jar?  And I used a paper towel!  Why not a reusable dishcloth or washcloth?

Do you see where this is going?  People in our society spend far too much of their energy and attention on things that are of minimal importance - and far too little time focused on things that are of vital importance.

If I am going to be obsessive, let me obsess about knowing God and His revelation of Himself.  Let me obsess about communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have never heard.  Let me obsess about how I can please God, my Savior, and bring Him the glory due to His holy name!
(1 Corinthians 10:31) ¶ Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Bobbi said...

Whoa...that gave this little obsessive perfectionist a lot of food for thought. Sadly, at the moment, I can't think of a single quirky tendency that is God focused.

The only obsessive Christians I can think of are the legalistic...who obsess about keeping the LAW for themselves and everyone around them.

Pastor D said...

I suppose that obsessions tend to go in the direction of legalism and superstition. We use our obsessions to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. They make us feel safe.