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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Carpet Shampooers: A Philosophical Take

Today, I used a carpet shampooer.

It's actually one of my most favorite things to do. Granted, it's time consuming and often kinda messy, but there's just something so... so wonderful about carpet shampooing.

I didn't actually use it to shampoo a carpet this time- we got a couch from a relative, and it had been sitting in storage (ie: an old hen house that Zeke's folks use as a storage building now) for a while, so I used the nifty upholstery attachment to get the couch good and clean. It needed it.

As I listened to the hum of the suction (ah, lovely), I got to thinking. What is it about carpet shampooers, anyway? And then I realized...

It's this!

Nasty, disturbing, and yucky, but also strangely satisfying.

It's the results! 

In fact, almost every aspect of the shampooer is about results. The upholstery attachment is clear, so you can see the water getting all sucked up. The retaining tank is also clear, so you can see the grossness you've collected already. Granted, these features do have practical applications as well, but I'll be honest. I love carpet shampooing for the very satisfying results. The knowledge that a difference is being made is what makes the hassle and the time all worth it. 

Aren't we like that with a lot of things? When I started thinking about it, I realized how my decisions are shaped by whether or not I'll see results.

How many times do we give up on something because we just aren't seeing results? 

Sure, maybe giving to the needy is important, but if I don't feel like I'm making a difference... if I don't see those smiling faces...

I know I need to be more gracious towards someone in my life who is difficult to love, but if she doesn't say thank you when I help her... if she continues to walk away from faith... if she still has that unlovely attitude...

Submitting to my husband's headship in the home is important, but if our marriage still doesn't seem to be improving despite my efforts...

We tend to equate results with success. When you see results- that's when you know that you've been successful. I study Chemistry, I get a good grade on the test. If I train for race, I run well. If I practice making a complicated recipe, it turns out delicious. Results. Success.

But is that the way God views it? 

At the end of the day, I'm inclined to believe that God sees our obedience as far more valuable than the results. After all, how many times do we work at something without success, only to find out that years later that we made a great impact? Who am I to say that another frustrating encounter with my sister is valueless, that tutoring a struggling kid (who never seemed to get anywhere) didn't result in something good in his life?

Before giving up on something we're called to because you don't feel like you're making a difference, remember this-

God defines success in obedience, not by how much I accomplish. He measures value not in results, but in attitude and willingness to answer His call. I may not see results right away, but He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion.

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