My kids know their dad is a genius. This is due to the fact that he’s convinced them he knows what he’s doing, using such tactics as helping them solve homework problems as complicated as four plus four plus four.
Parents have to develop a reputation for genius to prevent the kids from coming up with their own, better household rules. Yet, I fear the day is coming when my son, David, and daughter, Tammy, will catch us making a blunder. We might, for example, buy Tammy a cheap brand of jeans.
“Mother,” Tammy would point out, “everyone knows you can’t attract a guy without wearing expensive designer jeans.”
And she’ll think I’m not smart?
Ralph and I are trying to hang on to our wisdom for as long as possible. We take every opportunity to make ourselves seem intelligent. For example, when Tammy went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and returned to the living room 14.2 seconds later, it didn’t take much brilliance on our part to deduce that her teeth still had dinner between them.
“Go back and brush your teeth,” Ralph said without turning from his magazine.
“I did,” she replied.
“I know you didn’t.”
To the children, Dad was definitely a genius — until the day he nailed up a shelf in Tammy’s room. When the project was done, we all squeezed into her doorway and stared at the shelf, tilting our heads in the hope that by doing so, the shelf would look straight.
Also, a row of holes above the shelf stared back at us like eyes in the wall.
“What are the holes for?” I asked.
“I used nails to search for studs,” Ralph answered.
“Did you have to use railroad spikes?”
“Why is the shelf crooked, Mommy?” said Tammy.
I was afraid to reply. I didn’t want to ruin Ralph’s reputation. David, fortunately, had been thinking.
“Daddy’s so smart,” he said, “he has no room in his brain for common sense.”
“Ahem,” Ralph said. “I measured with exact precision the distance from each end of the shelf to the floor.”
“But did you consider,” I asked, “that the floor might be crooked?”
It’s all in our perspective, that is, how straight we’re standing when we look at something. Or someone. We can live with or work with people and disapprove of their behavior — which is easy to do — but who’s really the one standing crooked? Are we sure we’re not standing on a lopsided floor, seeing things from a lopsided angle? And do others see us as entirely level?
The yardstick we use for measuring our lives, the world, values and neighbors can be calibrated for accuracy if we fine tune it with God’s Word. The Bible is, after all, the only ruler we can truly trust. The Bible is God’s perfect perspective.
But even then, our measurements will be most accurate only when we use it on ourselves. We can’t measure someone else and expect true readings while our floor is tilted — and aren’t we all tilted to some degree?
Now I have to figure out how to explain to the kids why Daddy hemmed up his pants with a stapler.
Reflection question for family discussion:
How do we know when we are looking at a situation or another person in a lopsided way?
Holy Spirit, help us to remember to ask You for a more accurate understanding of others, especially when we are upset with them.
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© 1990 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries