In early July, my family took a brief vacation during which we stayed at a home on a pond, near St. Louis. We found the place through HomeAway (an online service through which people list their rental homes or cottages), and the reviews for it were glowing. We hoped it would be the best of both worlds: we’d stay in a quiet, rural location, but be close enough to drive into the city and enjoy its offerings.
We’ve used HomeAway before, with fairly good luck. The places we’ve stayed have been clean and cozy, the owners friendly and responsible.
But our luck ran out on this trip.
To be fair, the location was as lovely as had been pictured, and my family had a wonderful time fishing on the well-stocked pond. And as promised, it was only about twenty minutes from the city.
The home itself was an interesting old place, with higgledy-piggledy additions to what once must have been a small cottage. The main area was wood paneled, with more modern additions drywalled. There were ample bedrooms for us all and clean linens on the beds.
But it was DIRTY.
The bathrooms and kitchen had certainly been given nothing more than, as my mom likes to say, “a lick and a promise.” Sinks and toilet bowls had been wiped out, but that was all. The kitchen and bathrooms both held abundant evidence of recent tenants, with the very real ghost of grime – layers of it – from seasons past.
I was fairly crushed upon discovering the filth; but when I opened the kitchen cabinets and drawers, I was even more disappointed. Plates, flatware, cups, etc., all appeared to have been tossed in with no sense of order. Because I usually love cooking special breakfast meals and unique treats when on vacation, my spirits sank even lower.
I didn’t want to touch anything in that kitchen, never mind cook in it.
I felt as though we had been robbed of the vacation experience we had looked forward to for so long, and according to our contract, there was nothing to be done about it.
Though I enjoyed all the experiences with my husband and kids away from the place, I couldn’t wait to leave it, and my disappointment was contagious. I attempted to snap out of it and keep my spirits up, but I just couldn’t rise above my frustration. At that point, my husband gently told me to consider the fact that I was ruining the trip for our kids as well.
I never did get manage a complete attitude adjustment, but I did try to stay positive and stop complaining about the state of our lodgings. And we did make some terrific new memories in St. Louis, a city with so much to offer.
(If you’re ever there, you must eat at Anthonino’s, on The Hill. That is, if you like Greek and Italian food. It’s simply the best.)
Looking back, I know it was a bit ridiculous of me to get so upset about dirt, even if there was a lot of it. I could have done a better job of hiding my disappointment and keeping my negativity to myself.
But I couldn’t even pray my way out of my childish behavior.
As Paul said, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do (Romans 7:19).”
It’s some small comfort to know that even Paul sometimes struggled with doing the right thing. Even when he recognized what he should do, there were times he simply could not bring himself to do it.
Instead, he did the exact opposite of what he knew to be right.
I think God lets all of us discover this reality for ourselves at one time or another in our Christian lives. After all, if it were easy to overcome sin every time we faced it down, we wouldn’t need him. Our characters wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t learn how to deal with such a problem the next time it came up, perhaps in a more important situation.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? – Romans 7:24
Thank God, he sent Jesus as the answer to that question.
We will never be perfect, but we should always be striving for spiritual maturity with Jesus’ help. We will fall into sin, but he will forgive us and pick us back up.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. – Psalm 40:2
So, don’t let sin get you down. If you ask him, Christ will help you up and set you straight.
He did that for me.
Have you ever experienced a time when you couldn’t do right, no matter how hard you tried or prayed? I welcome your comments.
Also, I appreciate your patience as I took a brief time off from blogging while on vacation, and while doing some much-needed home improvement projects. Thank you, friends!