For as long as I can remember, any time I had to cover a dish of leftovers I’d reluctantly walk over to the narrow drawer next to the sink and with great trepidation open it and pull out the box of plastic wrap, knowing I was about to enter into battle with it; a battle I’d invariably lose. No matter what I did, the wrap would inevitably cling to the roll and not stay in place on the edge that supposedly cuts off the piece to the desired length. I’d pull on it and the roll would start to turn, but would then stick to itself, which then necessitated putting down the box, taking out the roll and using my fingers to pry up some of the edge, thus allowing me to get a piece big enough to cover the dish. Since the roll was now in my hand I’d yank at it to tear the piece off, which usually then made a mess of the piece I needed to use. Truly maddening.
Aluminum foil was even worse. Foil boxes have serrated metal edges on which to cut the length of foil pulled off the roll. But what would usually happen when I pulled on a sheet is that the roll would come out of the box—or at least one end of it. I’d then try to use the
lid of the box to hold down the roll in order to keep it from flying out of the box. If I did manage to extricate a length of foil, when I tried to tear it off on the metal edge, more often than not I succeeded in cutting myself rather than the foil. I’d stand there and rail against the poor design of the boxes. I’d complain loudly to an imaginary audience, “Why doesn’t someone do something about this?” But, like so much in life, I accepted the struggle with plastic wrap and foil as one of the vagaries of life. I’d just have to live with it.
That is, until I saw a video on Facebook by this crazy Russian guy, a “life hacker,” in which he instructs viewers on the proper way to extract sheets of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. It was so simple. On either end of the Saran wrap box he was using there were tabs that could be pressed in so as to secure the roll. The directions on the ends of the aluminum foil box were very succinct: Press Here to Lock Roll. He then quickly and flawlessly began to extract and cut sheets of wrap and foil with no fumbling, hesitation, or the drawing of blood. At one point he said, “You’ve probably been doing it wrong your whole life.”
You got that right. I had never bothered to look at the package, even while I complained about the rolls falling out of the box. I’d never noticed those tabs. All the years of unnecessary frustration, dread, and injury could have been avoided if I had just looked at the box—at the instructions that are plainly written on each end. Right there in plain sight.
Throughout my life I’ve struggled with issues that are detrimental to my mental, spiritual, or physical well being. I’ve tried all sorts of things to deal with them, but more often than not, nothing seemed to work. Most people know what I’m talking about because we all experience challenges in the workplace and with our loved ones. When we try to figure out what to do on our own we usually don’t get it right. Like the crazy Russian guys said, we’ve probably been doing it wrong our whole lives.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. God is there to help us 24/7. We’ve just got to ask God for help and guidance and not go it alone. We’ve got to hit our knees and say, “God, whoever you are-whatever you are-wherever you are, I need help!” And then we lay it all out. The trick is we’ve got to open ourselves up to receiving the answer in ways other than those we expect.
It’s unlikely that we’ll actually hear the voice of God, so what we must do is listen to the voices of others, those through whom God might be speaking. The answers may also come from something we read, a song we hear, or photograph we see. But more often than not it will be a feeling. Yes, a feeling. Listen with your heart. Open yourself up to the great source of knowing that lies within you and is all around you. Then, when you feel that your prayer really has been answered, do what you’ve been told to do. Just like the instructions at the ends of those boxes of aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
So you see: help is awaiting us. In plain sight.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION OR DISCUSSION
- Be honest: did you know about the tabs at the end of plastic wrap and aluminum foil boxes?
- What are issues that you struggle with?
- How have you addressed them?
- Did you ask God for guidance?
- Think of a time when an answer to a prayer came in an unlikely form.
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