My kids love this time of year. We have Octoberfest at our family's farm (not in the German tradition, mind you), the best family reunion ever, my daughter's birthday, Halloween . . . as soon as pumpkins start appearing in the stores and on the stoops, the questions begin: "When are we getting a pumpkin? Can we carve it? What kind of face should I make this year?"
Now, belonging to a farm family, I do not buy a pumpkin, certainly not from a store. I instead pick out some from the selection my grandparents bring for the kids to the above-mentioned reunion. So this year Rowyn chose a nice, round one, and Xoe one with a beautiful squiggly stem. We set them on the porch way back the week of Columbus Day.
And waited. My thought: if we carve them later, they may actually last through Halloween, and the kids are disappointed when they don't.
So on Tuesday night, we deemed it a great day to carve pumpkins. The weather was warm, we had nowhere to go . . . perfect. So the kids went out with our dry-erase markers, I with my carving knife and a few plastic bags for glop. While Xoe drew a happy face on hers and Rowyn made a few scribbles and then decided that fallen tree branch in the yard was far more interesting, I got down to business on Rowyn's pumpkin. I cut my circle in the top, pulled it up.
And went, "Ewwwwwwwwwwww!"
It was rotten inside. You know how there are supposed to be strings? Seeds? We had only mush. Orangish-brown, sloppy, stinky mush. It was seriously one of the grosses moments of my life. But my exclamation had brought the boy-o back over, and looking down into his dimpled face, those big eyes . . . yeah, I didn't have the heart to say, "Sorry, kiddo, no pumpkin for you this year."
I scooped out the foul-smelling goo. Poured it where I could. Held my breath and got rid of the rotten. I hosed it out. I bagged and double-bagged the glop and got rid of it. Then I went to work cutting away any yucky meat from inside.
At which point I noticed the soft spots. The weak spots. The spots I would have noticed from the outside had I looked for them. It hadn't occurred to me to do so, I just assumed the pumpkin was fine--but had I bothered, I would have seen the signs. I could have gotten another pumpkin beforehand. I could have spared myself some disgust, lol.
Oh-so-often I do the same thing with life. I push forward, not even considering caution. Or I ignore that soft spot I detect. It's the little things, the little warnings. Like yesterday when I handed Xoe a bowl of Spaghetti-Os and thought, "She's going to spill that." But handed it to her anyway. Thirty seconds later . . . . Or that time I looked at the bananas on the counter and thought, "I should move those so the dog doesn't get them." But the dog had never shown any interest in bananas, nor had he gotten anything off the counter. Yet when we got home that afternoon . . .
The Lord tries to show us those soft spots in life's pumpkin. He gives us the Spirit to whisper the warnings in our ear. "You had better be careful here, beloved . . . better open you eyes . . . better listen, and spare yourself some discomfort." After years and years of observing this, it's still a task to listen to that voice. To take it seriously. To trust it.
I'm in a place right now where I can see how the Lord has led me lovingly to some of the big things happening in my life. But how awesome is it that He leads us in the little things too, if we pay attention?
Thank you, Lord for having a soft spot in Your heart for humanity, so that you can show us the soft spots in us.
For where it makes us weak, it makes You strong.