Yesterday in Sunday School at church, we were studying an Allegory found in the Book of Mormon about an Olive Tree. The allegory is intended to help us better understand God's love for us--He is the master of a vineyard of olive trees that He works SO HARD to preserve. His methods include grafting (and re-grafting) when necessary, transplanting to increase likelihood of growth potential, dunging the trees for nourishment, leaving it alone for a bit to see if it has the strength to regenerate, etc. All of the things that He does are for the benefit of the tree and to help it bring forth the best possible fruit. To be clear, God gives us experiences, nourishes us and moves us around to increase our potential to be happy and reach our growth potential.
Well, yesterday when we got to the part about dunging, I got the giggles. Not to make light of a beautiful analogy, but we had a little literal dunging in our house yesterday. Mind you, it was a character-building experience, so the connection works. I was in the bathroom helping Adi get ready for church and went down the hall to wake Liam up, passing Matt's room en route. I was hit with the stench even with the door closed and smiled softly to myself, thinking how grateful I am for a husband who takes care of Matt's horrible, messy diarrhea on the mornings when he is home. Just then, a happy husband comes bounding up the stairs, chipper chicken, all ready for church and kisses me as he passes me on his way to Matt's room. Knowing what he was in for, I walked back to the bathroom to finish helping Adi and kept one ear perked to eaves drop on what I knew was about to follow. He enters Matt's room and immediately starts chatting away to Matt about how stinky his room is: "good morning stinky! Wow, your room smells terrible!" All in a happy voice. Matt starts saying, "mo-ning!" and "Stinky!" in response. Todd takes him into the bathroom and unzips his jammies (Matt sleeps in one piece because leakage isn't just a possibility...its the norm), and groans. I hear him say "Oh my gosh" under his breath about 30 times and I know he grabbed for gloves. I ALWAYS glove up for this experience. Todd thinks he is skilled enough to only glove when it is extreme. Its extreme. Matt is literally covered with nasty poop up his back and his front as well as down his leg. Todd begins the process of wiping him down so that he can put him in the bath. While doing so, the wipes fall off the back of the toilet and Todd reaches down to grab them at which point Matt walks into his head. So Todd screams (a very manly scream of course) and I hear this "NO! MATT! AHHH" and I simply smile from down the hall. A few seconds later I figure compassion might be in order, so I walk down the hall. Todd almost crashes into me as he races out of the bathroom with his head down, pointing to the top of his balding (sorry Todd) noggin, and questions me in a panic...."Is there poop on my head?" Not knowing everything that has happened yet--only hearing the drama--I burst out laughing at the question...."is there poop on my head?" How many times have you been asked that before? I look, trying hard not to laugh as Todd simply is not seeing the humor yet, and do not see any poop. He doesn't exactly want to swipe at the top of his head with the used gloves OR with a bare hand in case there is, in fact, poop on his head. So, annoyed that I am not seeing it and convinced he has poop on his head, he goes and looks in the mirror. Yes, there is, in fact, poop on his head. Turns out that Matt walked into him before Todd had wiped him and the poop touched Todd's head while he was bending over. Yes, he did shower. Yes, we were late to church because Todd had poop on his head. And yes, when we talked about getting "dunged" in class today, I did laugh.
Now, we have a lot of dunging experiences in our house--both the literal and figurative kind. But what I learned as we talked about this allegory is that sometimes these experiences are exactly what we need. The master of the vineyard does not throw dung on us haphazardly. He will not do so unless it serves the purpose of nourishing us in some way....unless it is aimed at helping us grow. We put a 4 inch layer of dung on our garden this weekend and I tell you, I would not have shoveled that crap (pun intended) if I didn't know for a fact that our little garden was going to benefit. I feel the same is true of our dunging experiences.
When I was working for Stephen Covey, one of the ladies who was part of our dream team was going through something very difficult. She described the fact that she felt like she was crawling through a pile of manure and could literally feel it getting under her fingernails as she dug with all of her might. She was confident she would eventually emerge, but she had to keep digging. I think that is our role--to keep digging. We have to dig deep and get a little poop under our nails sometimes if we are to reach our growth potential. What nourishes us the most, in the long run, might also stink pretty badly as we are digging our way through it.
Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I am grateful to know that my vineyard has a Master. Looking at what we are going through right now (because, candidly, I feel like the poop right now is starting to choke me a little) feels manageable IF it has purpose. If I know that I am being given what I need to nourish my potential for growth, I can start to see it differently and look for what it is that I am supposed to learn.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my digging :-)