Stolen. The bag that contained what little resources that they had left to live on. Stolen. The bag that contained the wallet.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that they had to live in a van, now the money that they depended on was gone. But, as her frantic parents wondered what to do, the little girl only thought of one thing.
She didn’t think about the money, didn’t worry about what they would eat, didn’t wonder how the van could continue moving when they didn’t have money for fuel. No, she panicked about…
Her father’s, to be exact. It happened to be in the stolen bag.
The three-year-old turned to her mother. “Mommy.”
“D-daddy’s toothbrush!” The girl was close to tears. Her mother probably was, too, but not over the toothbrush.
“Do you think we’ll get the toothbrush back?” the little girl asked pleadingly.
“I don’t think so,” her mother responded.
The girl’s lip began to quiver. “Mama, do you think they’ll use it?”
“No. I’m sure they’ll probably throw it away. Nobody wants somebody else’s yucky toothbrush.”
The girl was heartbroken. The poor thing would never be used again. It would be thrown away. Unwanted. Unloved. And she was in tears over, well, her daddy’s toothbrush.
I was that girl.
I didn’t care that our meager savings were gone. I cared about some old stick with plastic bristles. Life is sometimes like that. And I’m not just talking about slightly strange three-year-old girls. I’m talking about when, in the midst of things that really do count, we focus on the little things that, in reality, don’t matter.
We fume over the cashier who couldn’t give us a kind word. We stomp around when somebody laughs at us. We cry when someone says something cruel to us, instead of rising above it.
I wonder, if every ounce of energy spent on unnecessary anger and pointless worrying were instead channeled toward doing good, what would the world look like?
Would there be 153 million orphans?
Would there be homeless people roaming our streets?
Would there be members in our communities feeling forgotten and worthless?
How many times have we said, “I just don’t have time,” when faced with a chance to do good? Yet, that same day, we might have taken time to fill our minds with angry thoughts toward someone, or perhaps taken time to inwardly mope around when something didn’t go our way. Taken time to snap carelessly at a friend. Taken time to worry about that misplaced box of pencils and tape.
In a sort of funny, parable-esque way to put it, we’re crying over toothbrushes when there are things in our lives worth our attention. Worth our anger. Worth our tears. What if we were only allowed to worry and cry about things that we believe God cries and worries over?
I’m pretty sure we’d have to stop most of our pouting real quick.
Perhaps everything has gone wrong for you in the past week. Maybe right now you don’t feel like anyone thinks you’re useful. Maybe you feel like people are pointing fingers at you. Maybe you wonder if the world would miss you if you were gone. Your feelings crash altogether; you are convinced that your life is meaningless, no matter how your family and friends try to show you otherwise. For a moment, picture the homeless woman, shuffling through a frozen street. Nobody would miss her if she died, nobody wants her if she lives. She feels utterly useless, utterly worthless. Suddenly it feels like we’re crying over toothbrushes, doesn’t it?
Maybe you feel like no one is willing to stand up for you; no one’s willing to agree with you. Think of the unborn child, wishing that someone would plead for its life and say the words that it longs to say, but cannot.
Maybe right now you’re in a state of depression because you feel that no one cares, or pays attention to you, just because a loved one got in a squabble with you this morning. You probably KNOW that they care about you, but instead you choose to think, “They yelled at me,” “They don’t appreciate me,” “I’m uncared for,” or “I’m alone.” Let me tell you what alone is. It’s crippled kids forced to stay in cribs for their entire lives. It’s fifteen-pound six-year-olds starving to death. It’s a little boy named Viktor, screaming until he becomes insane…just because nobody has looked at him in five years. I’ve met these kids. Held their hands. That is what unloved is, my friend.
Next time that person on the street says something that you couldn’t call a friendly greeting, don’t stew over it. Instead, decide that you’re going to spend the next few minutes doing something that matters.
Let our nation stop crying about toothbrushes. Let us rise up, take a stand, put aside unworthy thoughts and focus on what God cries over. It’s past time for us to make a change. There are bigger things out there to find than a toothbrush.
McKennaugh Kelley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sixteen years old. She lives in Troy, Pennsylvania with a handful of crazy, creative, but mostly wonderful little brothers.