Tile or Linoleum? The answer might surprise you. . . .

I broke a plate today.  It bummed me out.  I just wanted a sandwich and I wanted to make it myself.  My hands were a little slippery, I guess, and it just slipped out of my hands.  Onto the terracotta floor.  Into an explosion.  
I was home alone, everyone else at work or out, and I just wanted a sandwich.  My cute son had lovingly done the dishes, swept the kitchen, and vacuumed for me.  He had even done the laundry before going about his own day.  In that instance of the plate smashing itself on the floor, I realized the sweeping and the vacuuming would have to be done again.  Shards of glass everywhere, as far as I could see, even into the next room.  I couldn’t just walk away and leave it like that, for hours.  I had to clean it up.  I’m still not supposed to lift or vacuum or do all the things I would like to get back to doing.  (Two hip surgeries in 12 weeks is not something I would recommend.)  I put my crutches aside and began cleaning up the broken glass. 

Whenever this happens, I find myself cursing the beautiful tile floor I love so much.  When we first built this house and had linoleum, it was a much more forgiving surface.  Not very often did a dish actually break when it fell, and if it did, it was only broken in one or two pieces, not thousands.  The tile is beautiful.
But, ruthless when it comes to accepting things that fall onto it. Every single thing that is fragile or made of glass or ceramic, will break when it hits this floor.  It will break phones, cameras, computers, glasses, dishes, vases, and kneecaps if you’re unlucky enough to trip and fall.  It will hurt feelings when the smudges from a wet dog go across it and one realizes it has to be mopped again.  The tile has been very expensive.  Not just to install it, but the cost of all the broken treasures it has consumed, without even so much as an apology.

While I was hobbling around on my crutch, trying to clean it all up, I became fascinated with just how devastating the blow had been to my plain little plate.  The pieces must have been in the thousands. Most of them so small they were barely slivers, ready to pierce the bottoms of my feet or my fingertips.  The others were sharp and dagger-like.  Ready to act like knives and slice open my flesh if I wasn’t careful.  Wow!  I thought.  That is a lot of force to cause such damage.  Not just a broken plate, but a demolished and destroyed plate.  It was over for my plate.  Done.  Annihilated. 

My face became pale and clammy.  It was a difficult chore to clean up the plate myself.  I had to drag out the vacuum and suck up all the debris in all the corners of every room it had landed after it had exploded into ten thousand pieces.  As I was cleaning it up, probably because I had to do it so slowly and carefully, it made my mind wander to other broken things and ask the question—what makes things break? 

I was thinking of relationships that are broken because people don’t want to forgive, because their hearts are hard, and they can only see things from their own personal vantage point.  Because they fail to think that maybe someone else might have their own pain and their own sorrow and struggles.  Am I the tile or the linoleum?  And, where do I feel safest?  Not on tile floors.  Not where even an honest mistake can never be forgiven.  I think without knowing it really, I’ve started to check for tile or linoleum before I get close to people.  Why?  Because I’m human and I’m not perfect.  I drop plates once in a while.  Glasses too.    

I have my struggles like everyone else.  I don’t advertise on Facebook what the challenge of the day is, but I have them.  I face them.  I am still happy.  I still get up every day and work as hard as I can, on that day.  And I enjoy my life.  I am grateful for my blessings.  For the people around me that support me and my family and encourage us along life’s hard tile floors.  And I forget sometimes that not all people have soft hearts.  Some people are so consumed in their own self-loathing that all they want is pain for everyone around them.  They can only see their own struggles, even the ones they’ve created for themselves.  And they refuse to see that they are not special.  They are not the only people with heartache and hardships.  And their hearts are like stone and one offense against them, even in honest ignorance, shatters another living soul.  And they don’t care.  

I hope there are not so many of these people in the world.  I desperately don’t want to be like that.  I want to be easy to be with.  Quick to forgive.   Easy to empathize with.  Willing to be helpful and not hurtful.  I am glad that God doesn’t have a tile floor.  When I make a mistake and I trip and fall and break a plate, He offers me the glue and the dustpan of his Son, Jesus Christ’s atonement, to help me put the plate back together, and then He helps me up, kisses me, and asks me to keep going.  

Forgiveness is more than saying ‘I forgive you.’  It’s not having a hard heart in the first place.  Dishes that break on tile floors cannot be mended, but dishes that break on linoleum can.  Maybe the tile is more beautiful and expensive, but it’s a warmonger.  The linoleum is plain and unassuming, but it’s softer and helps cushion the blows of human error.  Even Jesus said, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  On that day no stones were thrown. Today it seems many stones are thrown.  Have we forgotten that we’re not perfect?  That we all need Jesus Christ to be whole?  That we’re not “special?”  We’re special because we’re God’s children, but we’re not special because He loves us all.  ALL of us.

So, I’ll try to be careful and not drop too many dishes.  I’ll admire the beauty of my tile floor even while wishing it was not capable of so much damage, just by being there.