Over or Under?


Habits and Hurts

If you visit our home, you can tell who last replaced the roll of toilet paper by which way the paper hangs. If my husband Rich placed the roll on the spindle, the tissue flows over the top of the roll. If I did it, the paper hangs under the roll. 
I put the paper under because my cat, Ti’i, loved to stand on his hind legs and claw at the toilet paper. If the paper hung over, he’d unravel the whole roll if he managed to remain undetected while stretching and scratching. So I always, always, arranged the paper to hang behind the roll.
Ti’i was an amazing cat from the day he flagged me down, thrusting a paw through the mesh of his cage and furiously waving it at me as I visited the animal shelter looking for a companion back in 1995. “Is that your cat?” the kennel worker asked me.
“Well, if he’s available, he is now,” I smiled. 
Ti’i knew what he was doing when he chose me. He was a devoted companion and a great ambassador to his species, especially to humans who thought cats were aloof. He rode happily in the car, walked on a leash, ran to the door to greet guests. I often thought of him as a dog in disguise.
But he wrought havoc on toilet paper. So to this day, I hang the paper backwards. 
The thing is, Ti’i died in 2004. I’m hanging on to a useless habit because of an unpleasant experience that happened long, long ago.
I would like to report that this urge of mine to persist in habits that used to protect me extends no further than the paper question. But that wouldn’t be true. 
I used to be married to a hoarder with a temper. To this day, growing piles of clutter, or a harsh raised voice, evoke a response in me that is no longer necessary. My husband is gentle and capable of driving right by an enticing pile of cast-offs at the neighbor’s curb. So why does my stomach still somersault at a raised male voice? Why do I get edgy when the clutter multiplies?
Because I’m deficient in my faith, that’s why. I have trouble giving my problems over to God. Even the ghosts of problems past are difficult to release. Somehow, my struggling heart believes that my gut reactions to memories of bad things can protect me.

They can’t. But God can.

22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and He will sustain you;
He will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:22 (NASB)


  1. You know what? You should write a book of devotionals! They’d be the best ones on the market!

    I enjoyed reading this. I did, however, look around and think: hmmm…I’d best clean up a little before Sheila comes to visit!

    Are you coming to visit? Oh, I hope so! (Just give me a little warning, first!)

  2. Brandee,
    You are so kind. I’m working on a book idea, writing a little, then realizing I’m still waiting for the words to coalesce.

    But I write while I’m waiting, so we’ll see.

    And you know what? Visiting other people, I don’t even see clutter. It’s only when our home grows stacks that I get edgy.

  3. This is an awesome post – It brought back some memories of my own.
    I had a friend and one day as I visited her, I exclaimed, “Betty, I love coming to visit you at your house.”

    She asked why, and with all honesty, my young and not so wise mouth proclaimed, “Because when I visit you, my cluttered house seems very clean.”

  4. Hazel,
    That’s FUNNY!

  5. A great post. You reminded me that sometimes the emotional clutter is harder to give up than the physical clutter.

  6. Red,
    That’s a great point. Thanks!