The Small Things….A Peanut Butter Jar and a Parlor


Do you remember the story of Alice and Dietrich von Hildebrand and the soap? Well, here’s a short synopsis. Dietrich one day asked Alice if there was anything she would like to see him change? She told him she did not like that he left the soap wet and slimy on the bathroom sink every time he used it. Alice recounts how, from there on in, that soap bar was always dry! Always…

Here is another story of something that may seem inconsequential to one…but means a lot to the other. The question is… Do we have the humility to change?

by Lisa Jacobson, Marriage Wisdom for Her

The wise wife prevents small things from becoming big things by caring about the details that matter to her husband.

How can one jar of peanut butter cause so much trouble? That’s what I wanted to know. Because apparently, it was a big problem. He made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut butter jar and insisted that we put a stop to the madness. “Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this, and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned, and I protested his somewhat ridiculous request. There were actually eight good reasons. You see, we have eight children and one mother can hardly be expected to keep on top of everything.

They all make their own peanut butter sandwiches. Even the three youngest boys. Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer. He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for essential items in the laundry room.

He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the front door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut butter container? That just about does him in. And I basically communicated to him, “Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be.” That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible.

I left him in the kitchen, feeling quite justified in my defensive and somewhat huffy response. Except for one thing . . . I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor,” as we call my very favorite room in the house.

It’s my special place; in the parlor, we have pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass coffee table. The kids are not allowed to eat in this room. No electronic gadgets, either. No LEGO® bricks, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the parlor. I love this room.

So are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have eight children? With a glass coffee table, no less? Well, it’s because it’s important to me. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut butter jar wiped down? Right. That’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those. Not only that but when the rest of my family does their best to keep it the way I like it? It makes me happy. I feel respected. Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. But it’s a big deal to me to keep my parlor perfect, if at all possible. So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut butter jar.

But if it’s important to him? Makes him happy? Feel respected? Maybe even loved . . . ? Then I can do this one small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut butter jar in town.

And if your husband also has those “little things” that bother him? Consider the ways you can make them your priority, too.

Let nothing be done through contention: neither by vain glory. But in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:   Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men’s.”
(Philippians 2:3,4)  Douay Rheims
“What grander task can anyone have than that of guiding souls, of training the young? I esteem him who understands how to mold and educate youth more highly than the painter, the sculptor, and every other artist, whoever he may be.” -St. John Chrysostom

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We live in an age characterized by agitation and lack of peace. This tendency manifests itself in our spiritual as well as our secular life. In our search for God and holiness, in our service to our neighbor, a kind of restlessness and anxiety take the place of the confidence and peace which ought to be ours. What must we do to overcome the moments of fear and distress which assail us? How can we learn to place all our confidence in God and abandon ourselves into his loving care? This is what is taught in this simple, yet profound little treatise on peace of head. Taking concrete examples from our everyday life, the author invites us to respond in a Gospel fashion to the upsetting situations we must all confront. Since peace of heart is a pure gift of God, it is something we should seek, pursue and ask him for without cease. This book is here to help us in that pursuit.

To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?

The renowned spiritual writer Dubay gives surprising replies to these questions. He explains how material things are like extensions of our persons and thus of our love. If everyone lived this love there would be no destitution.

After presenting the richness of the Gospel message, more beautiful than any other world view, he explains how Gospel frugality is lived in each state of life.

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