Friday, January 4, 2013

Nautical Nonsense

It began when a friend shared with me the most recent of her stories about life with a little sister. The younger sibling had decided upon a new career choice after covering her sister’s name tag from work with stickers and receiving rave reviews over her handiwork. She would simply go into business, charging fifty cents a pop for a pin decorated to please. Laughing, I remembered that I had a spare in my possession, one that looked plain and pitiful compared to the decorative version my coworker now sported. A day or so later I handed it to her with the instruction to take it to her sister and see what she could do with it.

It came back to me covered with the “nautical nonsense” of SpongeBob SquarePants and his partners. The black lettering of my name, which once stood boldly alone in the middle of the yellow plastic, was now barely visible, surrounded as it was by the images of this cartoon hero and his friends. The artist sent a message to me upon delivery, apologizing for the theme but explaining that the stickers she used were the only supplies she had. Declaring it to be perfect, I pinned it immediately upon my shirt.

And so it turned out to be.

The last of the mad dash to Christmas was in full swing at the grocery store, and the front end was packed with people standing in long lines waiting to be checked out. I was manning the express lane, designed for small orders and speedy service. Along came a customer who, unlike everyone else in the store, was not in a hurry. Part of it was her age and lack of mobility; she had one speed, and it was slow. On top of that, she had many questions about food prices and fuel points, all of which I tried to answer, to the increasing frustration and exasperation of the next woman in line. Huffing and puffing, stamping her feet and glaring at the poor lady in front of her, she was clearly trying to communicate to the woman that she was taking too long. By the time the first customer finally shuffled on I was afraid to even speak to this next one, for fear that if she opened her mouth she would blow her top and all kinds of horrible things would come out from between her lips. So I skipped my usual greetings and just started scanning her groceries as fast as I could while she stared at the counter, fuming. Finally I had to talk to her to tell her how much she owed, and she lifted her head to look at me as I spoke. “Here it comes…!!!” I thought to myself, bracing for the explosion of rage that I was sure was coming.

That’s when the miracle occurred.

As she raised her eyes, she caught sight of the name tag pinned on my shirt. “You’ve got SPONGEBOB!!!!” she fairly screamed, a huge grin suddenly breaking across her face. She laughed and smiled some more, gave me my money and told me how much she loved that show. Too stunned at the total transformation in her attitude to answer her, I handed her the receipt and she happily went on her way.

Thinking about the incident later it occurred to me that when the customer looked at my name tag, she never even noticed my name, which was lost in the multitude of stickers around it. All she saw was SpongeBob and his buddies, the source of her joy. And for those of us who call ourselves Christians, that should similarly be our goal, that people see Christ and feel His love and touch in the words and actions surrounding our lives, and,  as they go, remember not our names, but His as the source of the impact on their lives and the subsequent happiness in their hearts.

Cartoon characters can’t alter the circumstances of one’s life at all. Momentary mood changers, they merely supply diversion and laughter, welcome anytime, but especially when our stress levels are at the breaking point. The effects of their influence diminish the minute they are no longer in view. Christ, however, works ever more effectively by changing us from the inside out, so that the situations we face daily no longer have a hold over us and our actions are not dictated by those of the people around us, whether they be fast or slow or even know that we’re in a hurry. We won’t have to pin our joy on our clothing for others to notice it; instead it should overflow unconsciously and continuously from a heart filled with the same.

A picture of SpongeBob changed that lady from being the maddest person on the planet to the happiest woman on earth…temporarily…, but a vision of Christ can fill a heart with eternal joy and produce life change that is clearly out of this world.

May He be that visible in you and me.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.” 
(Romans 12:2 MKJV)


  1. I'm not a fan of Spongebob- crude humor on the show once led to my Cute Gremlins repeating snippits of episodes out of context that resulted in very embarrassing "Did your child just say that?" moments in public! HAHA! So I have since removed the program from their lives (TV in general, actually. Now we just have a DVD player hooked up and check out stuff that we love at the library for FREE!) and they haven't noticed. But, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the point and theme of this. You write the most lovely posts and I am ALWAYS blessed when I read your wonderful blog. :) :) God bless you, my sweet friend! Let that light shine! :)

  2. Oh my word!!Why do our kids remember THOSE moments from the shows and not the multitude of other ones?! I totally agree with your decision and applaud you for the use of your DVD player! I really have only caught short pieces of the show myself when it was on the TV and I was passing through. The one thing that stayed with me was the theme song!!! "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!!!" (Writing this post put that back in my brain for days on end again, lol!) Oh well. Thanks so much for reading and for your sweet comments! I am always blessed when you visit. :)

  3. yes we never know who is reading us--wonderful post!


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