Imagine that I’ve been given an amazing pair of boots from the most reknowned boot maker in the world.  These boots are unlike any other boots made.  They’ve been uniquely put together with me in mind and handed to me free of charge.  They’re beautiful.  Everywhere I go they draw comments.  I love the boots and do my utmost to take care of them.  They’re more valuable than anything else I own so I spare no expense at maintaining them.

Now imagine that one day I’m wearing my amazing boots and a small pebble manages to find its way into one of them.  I stop, take off the boot, empty out the stone, put the boot back on and continue on my way only to find that now the other boot has a pebble in it.  I stop and empty that one out too.  As I walk along the pebbles keep finding their way into my boots.  I look at the boots and wonder why.  I refer to the manual to see if I’ve overlooked something in terms of caring for them.  I even try repeatedly to contact the boot maker.  For some reason, he isn’t returning my calls.  This problem goes on and on.  How do you think I feel now about my amazing boots?  They still look good, they still fit and they still draw positive comments.  They’re not all bad but that one little problem changes my feelings towards them.  Before I just loved them.  Now, I’m a bit irritated with them especially since I can’t figure out why the pebbles keep getting in when I’ve done everything I know to properly care for them.

Those boots are my children.  They were a special gift knit together uniquely and handed to me.  They are more valuable than anything else I have.  In fact, they’re priceless.  I know their worth and do everything I can to properly care for them.  They are so special that I don’t mind investing a lot of time and money into them.

The little problem with my boys is that they don’t clean up.  I come home from work and their shoes and coats are in a heap in front of the door.  The back packs are carelessly tossed where they impede walking into the house.  It’s a small pebble.  I can remedy the problem by cleaning up.  It takes under a minute.  I walk into the kitchen.  Someone has made himself a hot chocolate.  The opened mix is still on the counter.  So are the milk and the scissors used to open the new bag.  There’s a little hot chocolate mix spilled on the counter.  It’s another small pebble.  I can remedy the problem by cleaning up.  It takes under a minute.  Now I turn to use the computer.  A child has been there before me.  The computer screen has been lowered.  There’s a plate and cup sitting beside the screen.  Someone’s had a croissant.  The crumbs are on the plate and beside it and there’s a little bit of melted butter on the computer table.  On the other side of the screen there is an assortment of pens and pencils and an Ipod with its charger.  It’s a small pebble.  I can handle it.  It only takes about a minute to clean it up.  By this time I realize I need a bathroom.  A child has been there too.  I can tell.  There are wet, bunched up socks on the floor beside a wet, bunched up towel.  Someone has taken a shower.  The shower mat that’s usually hung over the shower door is now on the floor as well.  It’s a small pebble.  The problem is remedied easily in another minute.  As I go about my business, I discover many more small pebbles.  This isn’t an unusual day.  I am irked at the small pebbles.  I’m irritated at all the minutes I spend getting rid of them.  I wonder why they’re there at all.  My attitude towards my amazing sons, which should be one of love, isn’t.  I’m frustrated with them.

Some days I keep dealing with the pebbles.  I call them to my sons’ attention and insist that they are taken care of.  It’s tiring work.  Every time I turn around there’s a new pebble to bother me.  Other days I try to put up with the pebbles.  I can do this for only so long.  Eventually our house becomes more of a rock beach than a home.  My significant other isn’t very fond of pebbles.  He notices them and points them out to me and expects me to do something about them.  Some days I feel like punching him.  Doesn’t he know that I’ve been trying and trying and trying to do something about this problem and nothing I’ve done has worked so far?  Most days I try to explain to him that yes, I see the problem and yes, I feel that something has to be done about it and that no, I’m fresh out of ideas how to permanently remedy the pebble problem.  No matter what I do those pebbles just start appearing again to aggravate me.

I don’t want to get rid of my amazing boots but I don’t want to wear them and be annoyed every ten paces or so.  What consequences can I give my sons that they’ll learn to do what they’ve been taught to do?  How can I explain to these two, who should know by now, that these little problems have turned into a mountain for me – a mountain that obscures my view of them?  If I persist at making them clean up they’re angry with me and life is even more tiring.  If I let it go, my spouse is upset with me which is just as fatiguing.  Is this parenthood?  Trying, trying, trying and getting no noticeable results?  Is this marriage?  The problem is mine and mine alone to deal with?  In the end, all I have are a lot of questions and an amazing pair of boots that I should be enamored with but in reality don’t want to be close to.  They hurt me.  Over and over and over again they hurt me.  They tire me out.  They make an easy trip that much longer and harder because somehow I’ve let them be flawed.  All I can hope for is that the boot maker gets back to me on this one.  And that I don’t lose it and seriously hurt someone before He does.