While cleaning my room recently, I came across the following story written nearly 10 years ago… I share it partially to bring smiles to others, but also because what the Lord was teaching me then still rings true in my heart and life. May we always hold every relationship with an open hand!
The Story of the Toilet Brush
WARNING! This is a very sad story. If you don’t have a box of Kleenex near you, you had better get one.
Once upon a time, there was a toilet brush. His name was Downstairs-Bathroom-Toilet-Brush also know as Yellow-Toilet-Brush. He was a very nice toilet brush
That wasn’t how the story started. Let me try again.
Once upon a time, there was a girl. Her name was Elizabeth She cleaned bathrooms very well, especially toilets.
That wasn’t it either! Here is how it really went (with a little exaggeration!)
When I was about five years old, my mother would get my siblings and me to help with the clean-up on Saturdays. The way she worked it was as follows: She would print up a list of jobs that needed doing and set it on the table. The first person to put their initial next to a job was the one who got to do it. Problem: my legs were shorter than those of my older brother and sister. So, when Mommy called, “Job time!”, though I ran as fast as I could, my older brother and sister would always get to the list sooner than I and, of course, get the “better” jobs such as washing the sinks or the mirrors. I was always left with the toilets! But Mommy, being the good mother that she is, somehow persuaded me that washing toilets was a very honourable job and made me proud of being the one to do them! To this day, the simple job of washing that toilet brings back many memories.
As we got older, there were more jobs that we were capable of doing. That meant that we each had more than one job to do. Eventually, I found myself washing the whole downstairs bathroom by myself every Saturday. My favourite part of cleaning the bathroom was washing the toilet, for although I now had the opportunity to do the other “better” jobs, there was always a kind of bond (if I may use that term) between me and that toilet… and of course the toilet brush.
Now, you must allow me to introduce you to the toilet brush. This was not just any toilet brush. He was made of a wire ring covered in white bristles which was attached to a bright yellow handle. From the very first day I met him, I liked him. And as time progressed, I became rather fond of him. Often I would boast to my brothers (who washed the upstairs bathroom) that he did a much better job at washing toilets than the one they used. And so it seemed, for “my” toilet always looked cleaner after I was done than “theirs” did, and if they were having trouble getting theirs clean, I was always ready to show them what my favourite toilet brush could do! I don’t ever recall his being new, so I supposed he must have been around for some time before I began to use him. But despite his age, he was always bright and cheerful, ready for service at any time of day or night. He and I got along really well, and we made an excellent team. On several occasions, when I was away from home, I had to use some other toilet brush. But those brushes never worked quite as well, not being as familiar with my way of doing things.
Many years went by, and that toilet brush and I continued to work together. He was getting older, but that only served to increase his effectiveness as it made him more flexible and ready to squeeze into corners that were difficult to reach. His bristles were also less stiff, which meant that he could have a larger area of himself touching the surface of the object being cleaned thus allowing us to clean more quickly. By this time, we got along so well,that we hardly had to communicate to get the job done. Each knew what the other was doing and responded accordingly.
One summer, however, everything changed. I was away at a course for three weeks. During my absence, my mother helped one of my younger siblings clean the bathroom. While cleaning, she noticed that this old toilet brush was rather used and worn out and decided to replace him. I was completely oblivious to this change until the Saturday following my return. When I came to clean the toilet, I opened the cupboard expecting to find my faithful old favourite toilet brush there. What I found, however, was very unexpected: in the place where he usually sat, I discovered a blue-handled object with a ball of stiff blue-and-white bristles at the end. A quick search of the cupboard revealed no other brush, so I immediately inquired as to the whereabouts of my favourite toilet brush. Mommy’s response was mild: “It was time for it to be replaced.” My favourite toilet brush was gone! Gone forever! Never again would I see his cheerful yellow handle (true, it was fading, but it was still yellow) sticking out of his bucket. Never again would we clean the toilet together, and enjoy the silence of mutual consent! How could I ever get used to this new brush? I had always cleaned the toilet with my favourite brush! He was old, it was true, but he worked so well! Why should he be replaced?
That is the story of the toilet brush, but it isn’t the end of the whole story. As I thought about that toilet brush, it seemed unfair to me that he should be thrown out. The one upstairs didn’t work nearly as well as him, yet that one had been allowed to stay. This new one was awkward and stiff. It would be a long time before I could use it in the same way as I had been able to use my favourite brush. Yet, the mistress of the house decided that his time was up. His task was finished, his mission was accomplished. To me it seemed as though he could have served for many more years, but that was not to be his destiny.
How often do I respond in the same way to God? He puts people in our lives for a season and then takes them away when His purpose for them is accomplished. To us it may seem as though they could have been useful for much longer, but the Master in His wisdom knows when their mission is at an end. This does not only apply to people. There are other things with which He does the same thing. He gives material things. He gives opportunities. There are times when everything seems to be so perfect that we wish it could always stay that way. But this is not God’s way. Changes are a part of His plan. When He brings about those changes, how do I respond? Do I complain and question His decisions? “Lord, why did You take me out of that situation? I was learning so much. Others were blessed by what I was doing. ‘The toilet was getting clean!’? Or, “Lord, I don’t understand. You have put me in such an uncomfortable situation. The tools You have given me don’t seem adequate. ‘How can I clean the toilet with this?'” Will I weep and sigh over the people or things He takes away (I didn’t really cry over the toilet brush!) and pine for those He does not see fit to give, or will I trust that His will is good and that He has a purpose in everything even though I do not understand it?