I love reading Dear Abby. I find the issues and questions people ask to be interesting, sometimes sad, but sometimes amusing. Not too long ago I read about a man wondering what was the correct way to put the top sheet on the bed. Do you put the pattern side up (that was his opinion), or do you put the pattern side down (his wife’s opinion) so that when you fold the sheet back you see the pattern?
It was clear that this had been a serious enough discussion item in their household that this couple needed professional advice. Apparently they’d already decided the equally important issue of which way the toilet paper goes on the dispenser — over the top or under.
I laughed at Dear Abby’s answer. She wrote the same thing I was thinking. She said that she was glad that this was their biggest problem, big enough to write to her about! She then went on to say that whoever made the bed should be the one to decide which way to place the sheet. Problem solved, but probably not the satisfying answer that the letter writer was looking for.
This lead me to ponder why do people obsess about these kinds of things? The search for the “right” way to do things is an inherent part of human nature. Right versus wrong. We know if there is a right way to do things, then there must be a best way to do things, and why not try to do things the best way? I believe that we search for the best way to try to make order out of an often senseless world, to gain a sense of control even though we’re not in control.
We look for the right way to do things in our religious lives too. Through the Bible we learn that the Jews had hundreds of rules about how things should be done. Jesus taught us those rules weren’t as important if they got in the way of relating to God. Such is it with us. We let the trivial get in the way.
I love saying The Lord’s Prayer. There is a comfort in saying those powerful words, words that Jesus taught us. But what is the right way? Debts versus trespasses versus sins? Do we add on the “for thine is the kingdom” section? I want to say this prayer in the right way!
This spring when we said The Lord’s Prayer with the interpretation of the confirmands, I saw it in a new way. The prayer took on new meaning as I heard those young people reflect upon their relationship with God.
Doing things in a comfortable, familiar way isn’t wrong. Do what is right for you. But let us never forget to look with open minds on different ways of doing things and to never let the rules get in the way of our relationship with each other and with God.
Jill Weisenbeck is a longtime member of Lake Street United Methodist Church, Eau Claire.