I often tell my kids, "People are more important than things." Depending on the circumstances, it's a catch-phrase, a reminder to heed others' feelings, a reprimand or a simple statement of fact. Sometimes, the lesson is for me.
A few days ago, I was vacuuming, which, at our house, can be a run of the mill routine, or an exercise in extreme frustration, due to the age and temperament of our vacuum cleaner. On this particular day, it was the latter, as the wretched machine rattled, banged, shook and protested against its purpose in life. Rather than kick it, which I wanted to do (but didn't want to do front of Ramona) I turned it off for a short break. I went to a bookshelf to dust. After dusting the bottom shelves, I leaned on a shelf to help myself up (I'd done something to my knee recently, and it was hurting.) This was a mistake, and any of you who can mainly afford "some assembly required" furniture know exactly what I mean. The peg that held the shelf in place gave way, the corner of the shelf tilted, and books had no choice but to come off the shelf.
It wasn't just the books, or the shelf. It wasn't just the knee. It wasn't just the frustration of limited finances that currently prohibit a new vaccum or better quality furniture. It was all of it. Together. Seemingly hanging over my head like a black cloud, raining only on me, darkening my vision.
"Oooh! I'm so tired of these cheap bookshelves!" I blurted out, to no one in particular.
But someone in particular was there. Four-year-old Ramona. She came over to where my bad knee and I sat, dejected, on the floor in front of a cheap bookshelf, near tears (I have to add -- avert your eyes, gentlemen readers -- that it was probably a hormonal time, too ....) and she put her soft, sweet smelling little arms around me and hugged me.
"Mommy, your family is more important than things," she said.
The tears that had welled up in frustration now spilled over, just a tiny bit, in complete and utter love for this little gift from God. My sweet Ramona, who came to us when I was in my 40's, who came after three consecutive miscarriages, who surprised us after I'd given up on ever having another child ... Ramona, who is a living, breathing example of what God does when we allow Him to work in His way and in His time, was teaching me, yet again, the lesson that I so regularly try to teach my kids.
People are more important than things. As this cherished little person, with her arms around my neck, kissed my cheek, I felt her innocent wisdom permeate my being.
I can live with cheap furniture, dying vacuums, a bad knee and any other distraction in the form of "things" that comes my way. As long as I've got my people, I'm a happy woman. An unspeakably blessed and happy woman.