As we walked down the large, open hallway toward the classroom, the children were playing a game of tag. It was fun and energetic and we were all enjoying it. As we got ready to turn the corner to the narrower hallway (and neared the classroom), I let the children know it was time for the game of tag to be over and it was time to begin using our quiet voices to enter the classroom and sit down. One of the children responded by saying, “Awww man, you are such a fun sponge!”. Quite surprised and confused, I responded by asking “What is a ‘fun sponge’?”. She proceeded to inform me that a ‘fun sponge’ is someone or something that soaks the fun out of something. Oh my! The group of children did not know that we were headed into the classroom to do a science experiment, play games, and have more fun. What they knew right then was that I had acted as a ’fun sponge’ and had soaked the fun out of the situation by asking them to stop playing the game of tag! Of course, now that I have gained some self-awareness with this experience, I am quick to say what is happening next, BEFORE I try to stop the current activity (because no one wants to be a ‘fun sponge’ a second time)! However, on a more serious note, I felt that this child was on to something that day and she got me thinking.
Have you ever had one of those days? You know, THOSE days. The day that things do not go as planned because something breaks, something important is cancelled, or you leave something important somewhere else. One of those days that just soaks the fun out of the day (like a ‘fun sponge’). I have had a few of those days lately. It is frustrating and it is exhausting. It seems those days happen on the days when I am already not feeling my best. Over the past few months (thankfully not all on the same day), I have had my fair share of ‘fun sponge’ experiences.
I have focused on the positive side of things for much of my life. I typically am not the one to get hung up on the negative (although I do occasionally). I have had many friends or co-workers make a comment about my “Pollyanna” mentality. I am normally the one who is looking for the positive in a negative situation. I am normally the one trying to find the bright side or the one who reminds others about the next good thing that is to come in the midst of the hard stuff. There have been multiple times that I have been in the midst of the challenging project and have made the comment that “The hard part is over (or almost over) and it will get better from here!”.
So, here I am, the person who is almost always looking for the positive and looking toward the bright future and I have been called a ‘fun sponge’…what is the world coming to!? My response? Well, we all have our bad days. I just pray that we do not let those ‘fun sponge’ moments prevent us from seeing the lights of joy. For example, as we got out of my car at Chick-fil-a in Georgetown, TX on my return from a weekend away, I locked my keys in my car. I was frustrated. I went inside, sat down, and began to call Roadside Assistance. I was tired and I just wanted to get home. It WAS a ‘fun sponge’ moment for sure. A sweet, older man wearing a “Guest Relations” name tag walked over to our table and began to exclaim loudly “It is such an HONOR to have you all dining with us today! I just CANNOT believe that I am in the presence of the World’s Greatest Grammie. This is incredible! I hope you have a wonderful day! Thank you SO much for being here and congratulations on being the World’s Greatest Grammie!” It felt like we were in the scene from the movie ‘Elf’ about the world’s greatest cup of coffee. It was hilarious, captivating, and wonderful. Grammie (my mother-in-law) had just received the “World’s Greatest Grammie” shirt that she was wearing from her grandchildren as an early Mother’s Day gift. She just kept smiling and giggling. For a moment, we all forgot our frustration about my keys being locked in the car and being stranded at Chick-fil-a. Instead, we smiled, we laughed, and we did not let the ‘fun sponge’ moment take over. Instead, we let the light of joy take over. It was wonderful.
I once told my friend (who was in the midst of a crisis in her family) to pause every 15 minutes and find a blessing or a joy right there in that moment so that the sadness and scariness did not take over their lives. I had used this technique frequently when I worked at the children’s hospital with worried parents. That same friend reminded me of that technique again a few weeks ago in the midst of one of my ‘fun sponge’ moments. Sometimes our ‘fun sponge’ moments are so strong that we have to look even harder for those lights of joy and those blessings. We also need to try to remember to share those lights of joy and blessings with others in the midst of their ‘fun sponge’ moments.
Who knew that one brief moment in the hallway with a very insightful child would have such an impact on me? Unknowingly, she reminded me not to let the ‘fun sponge’ moments take over and to go and share the light of joy and the blessings of life with others in the midst of their ‘fun sponge’ moments.
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.