oMany who will read this will remember the occasion the title refers to. It was a time when there wasn’t whole house air conditioning. The house was only made bearable from the screen door at either end of the house that let air move through the house providing some cooling though not nearly enough.
But screen doors left open would let flies and other flying critters in and so the screen door was fitted with a spring. Open the door and the spring would stretch. Let go of the door and the spring would bring the door to a close with a loud slap!
The only way to prevent the slap was to slowly close the door thus keeping the flies outside while not putting your mother on her last nerve.
Unfortunately, this slow exercise doesn’t fit the life of a young child eager to get wherever they are going whether in or out. Usually, He or she would be on a full run and many feet away from the door when it slammed shut.
In these homes under these criteria there was a phrase heard several times a day. “Don’t slam the screen door!” The phrase was usually said at a volume that riveled the slamming of the door and was generally too late.
Most homes don’t have the problem these days. We’re all ensconced in our capsules insulated from the outdoors by our HVAC systems, Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning. We can enjoy silent bliss with just the gentle sound of the HVAC fan circulating the air throughout the home.
That’s one reason we can enjoy the silence. The other is more bittersweet. You see that door slamming was preceded and followed by the running footsteps of a child. A child full of energy and joy. Often the noise was generated because our young one couldn’t wait to bring us a flower (weed) they’d found and found beautiful. Or perhaps it was to tell us of watching a butterfly escape from its cocoon prison. Whatever the reason, the exuberance of the child was too often squashed by the insistence that the door does not slam.
Too often good intentions are met by our requirement that things be done to please us. Sometimes a loving act is diminished by the insistence that the act performed be performed according to an accepted set of rules.
For example, I have heard of children writing to their mother and or father from camp or school. The child is first obeying the admonition to write home. I spent many weeks at summer camp as a young boy. To receive a letter from me, my mother would put pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and paper in my suitcase. Unfortunately, I too often returned home with those letters in tack and unused. But other children were more disciplined than I.
They would write the letters as they should telling Mom and Dad about the events of their day, the boys, or girls they had taken a fancy to, and a brief mention that they hoped their parental units were ok.
Some of those children who obediently and obligingly wrote home were excited when, a few days later, they would receive a letter from home. Inside was news from home but also inside was the letter they had sent previously except it was marked up in red. All through the letter were corrective marks noting incorrect spelling, missed commas, missed capitalizations, and other grievous grammatical errors.
Those children also report feeling crestfallen as it seemed the content of their letters wasn’t important, especially since what they had written was not responded to in kind. No, apparently, the only purpose for them writing home was to give the recipient another opportunity to point out how stupid and disappointing they were.
Now that I am a parent and a grandparent, I’m sure that the corrections written in red were intended as an act of love. That the correction the returned letters brought were from a desire to help the child be a better person. A person who could write intelligently and correctly. Certainly, this is a necessary skill for one to learn.
Many receive this same kind of reception today. No, their letters aren’t returned with red correction marks on the page, but the same occurrence happens, nonetheless. The scenarios can take many forms.
The specific occasions are too many to mention but the situation happens somewhat according to the following chain of events. A person sees a need or a want expressed by someone within their circle of friends and acquaintances. They desire to meet that need. Often the need is not met well or adequately. This may be due to many reasons. The person trying to meet the need may not have the necessary skills to perform the necessary actions. It may be they don’t have all the information needed to sufficiently address the need. It also occurs sometimes that the person expressing the need or complaining, doesn’t really want or need anyone to address the need…they were just venting. Another situation that occurs is the complainer wants the problem solved by a particular person.
And so, the effort to fix the problem is met with derision, mockery, or feigned appreciation. Regardless of the response the effort on the helper’s part is rejected and unappreciated.
Unfortunately, often, the effort is rejected due to the arrogance of the one receiving the assistance. There is arrogance from narcissism and there is arrogance from ignorance. In the first case the person has such an overwhelming ego that nothing anyone does for them is good enough. Unfortunately, too, the effort intended on their behalf is rejected because the recipient’s ego feels no gratitude because, after all, they deserve anything anyone does for him or her.
Arrogance from ignorance can occur for many reasons. The recipient may not know or realize that the help was offered for their benefit. It is also the case that the recipient does not know the effort required to affect a solution and they do not realize how much effort the giver put into trying to be of help. Again, regardless, the recipient fails to acknowledge the benefit done for them nor do they say or show appreciation.
Some go through life being reminded to not let the screen door slam. No matter how they try to help, their effort is ignored or rejected. Most simply quit going through the screen door of caring about another. In the former case the giver receives some reward because they have done what they did from an attitude of love, a desire to be of help. Purity of the heart is always rewarded in some fashion I believe. If not in the here and now than in the hereafter when our Savior and Lord says “well-done.”
The saddest case is when we become so jaded to helping others that we cease trying. No one receives any benefit in the latter case.
We must try to find the joy in the slamming screen door. We can make life better for the giver when we receive their gift with grace and appreciation. When we do that, the giver is blessed, we are blessed, and our Father in heaven is pleased.
Who is slamming your screen door?