A lesson in a heart-shaped box

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2012

It was Feb. 14, 2002. Victoria’s 7-year-old eyes slowly scanned the Valentine loot scattered on the kitchen table. Pushing aside treat-filled plastic bags, small white envelopes bearing her name, and

the wrappings of the candy that didn’t survive the ride home she reached for the large, red, heart-shaped box.

“And who is this for?” she asked, her voice filled with hope that she was the intended recipient.

“Sorry. I bought it for your Dad,” I replied while thinking Victoria’s choice of the Whitman sampler was pretty impressive.

“May I open it?” she boldly questioned.

“Well… OK,” I answered after deciding Michael wouldn’t mind. By the time he returned from his business trip, he’d barely notice it anyway. I continued, “Just don’t lose the little map inside. It lets you know where each type of candy is located.”

My husband does not like surprises. With regards to candy and to life, he wants to know what’s in store for him before he sinks his teeth into it.

“Okay, I won’t lose it,” she happily promised as I left the kitchen.

Only moments after she had ripped the cellophane from the candy it had been protecting, Victoria found me in the study. Her solemn expression informed me that her next words had been carefully chosen.

“I didn’t lose the map,” she quietly began, then continued with a rush of words, “but I dropped the box and all of the candy fell out and I don’t know where any of it belongs.”

In her defense, I never told her not to drop the box. I only asked her to guard the map. She followed me

into the kitchen where we began to pick up the candy. The bounty of strewn sweets dwindled as we attempted to return each piece to its proper place. It was a difficult task, except for the cashews. It’s easy to spot a nut, even when it is covered in chocolate and trying to masquerade as a candy.

And so it is with life…

Sometimes we drop the box. The pieces of our lives are then in disarray, and suddenly we don’t know where anything belongs. Spouses, children, jobs, ministries, hobbies, unspoken dreams, friends and even nutty relatives (I can’t believe I wrote that!) viciously vie for our attention. They all start to look the same. Well, except for the nuts. They’re easy to spot, even when they try to masquerade as something sweet.

Keeping my priorities in order is an ongoing task for me. I am so grateful for my God, Who kneels beside me to take those sweet, but scattered portions of my life and return them to their proper place. Even the nuts!

Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.