Home > Family, Religion > A Still, Small Voice

A Still, Small Voice

The still, small voice was whispering,“Grace” in my soul. Every fiber of my being was screaming for retribution or, at least, some kind of fairness. But there was that voice. “Grace… grace… they are only teenagers.” So I took a deep breath, put on my iPod and started cleaning.

Five hours earlier…

Two of the six guys I was responsible for at Trey’s youth camp decided to cook a spaghetti dinner one night. I thought that was a good idea and much cheaper than eating out in Red River, NM at night. And we would all be there together for a meal which provided another opportunity to bond. They wouldn’t let me help at all; instead, one would call his mother multiple times to seek advice. I guess they didn’t know or care (well, they did know… I told them a few times) that I am a good cook. I do most all of the cooking for my family during the week. But my experience was not asked for. They had purchased a lot of food. I was sure there would be left-overs. I did check on them several times just in case they needed something but they seemed to know what they were doing. So we were going to have spaghetti.

Trey and I were on the deck upstairs with four other guys playing a rousing and loud game of Rat, a variation of the dice game Farkle. Shouts of excitement and disgust would come spewing off the deck causing passers-by to look up and ask what we were doing. It was that clamor that make it hard to believe that the guys downstairs “didn’t know I was there.” So all of the spaghetti was eaten by those guys with the help of the guys next door. There was none left.

Over the previous few days I had tried to connect with these guys and really thought that I was making some good progress. “Spaghetti-gate” illustrated that I was wrong about that, at least to some degree. At first, I was disappointed until one of the fellows brought up the half-empty plate of his second or third helping (I am not sure which.) Trey had gone down and asked if there were anything left. I told the guy that I really wasn’t that angry but for him to tell everyone that I was ticked off. I was going to milk it for awhile. Then I went into the kitchen. Oh my Emeril! What a mess! There was spaghetti everywhere, cooked and uncooked. There was spaghetti sauce spilled on the counter, floor, and the sides of the crock pot they had used to keep it warm. (That was actually my suggestion.) Pots and pans were covering the counters – pans that had been used to cook hamburger meat, pots that had held spaghetti, pots that weren’t even used (I think). It was overwhelming. That is when I kind of lost it. The bus was going to pick us up in 35 minutes to take us to the conference center that was about a mile away. I told them, in no uncertain terms, that it all must be cleaned up before they get on that bus. Upon that instruction, Trey and I left to find something quick to eat so we would not be late to the evening session.

I was certain that when I walked back into the kitchen that it would be clean. So I was crestfallen upon finding that much of it was still untouched. They had put the plates in the dishwasher, apparently without rinsing them, which clogged up the dishwasher and later caused a leak all over the kitchen floor. All of the pots and pans and mess were still there. I started to get warm.

“Grace. Grace”

Then I noticed the crock pot had been left on and had a black baked-on layer of spaghetti sauce in the interior. I was getting really mad now. “I can’t believe these guys didn’t share their meal with me and then left all of this for someone else to clean”, I thought.

“Grace. Grace”

In all, it took about an hour to clean that mess. I got finished just before they returned from the late night activities. In my room, I listened to see if anyone had noticed. It seemed they didn’t. And the next day, no one said thanks or even acknowledged that any of it had happened. Later, one of the guys, who had been sick and taken to the hospital thanked me for looking after him and “everything I did.” I appreciate that but it was given in a more general way. I will, however, take what I can get in that respect.

The next day, before we left Red River, I was checking the kitchen one last time. I found another mess inside the microwave. Someone had re-heated their spaghetti and sauce had splattered all over the inside of it. “I wish I had seen this yesterday.”

“Grace. Grace”

We were often told by our leader that this week was not about us (the adult sponsors). In light of that, I feel kind of guilty for even writing about this. I had been praying for several weeks that God would use me somehow to influence “my guys”. And although camp was really great in every other way, I came home wondering if the Lord had used me in any way. Later, I told Rhonda that I am not sure that I got anything from camp this year. But she reminded me about that voice. That still small voice quietly urging me to extend grace to those six 10th grade boys. I am not sure why but I guess I did bring home a lesson about grace. Maybe God was also showing me that it really wasn’t all about me. Should I have cleaned up that mess or made them do it? I may never know if any of this had an impact on any of them. But upon reflection, it did have an impact on me.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

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Categories: Family, Religion
  1. July 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    WOW!! I am sure that a few years from now those young men will remember and extend that grace to someone else.
    You did well.

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