The Peppermint Patties of Life
Buttered toast, fluffy popcorn, crunchy pretzel sticks, and colorful jelly beans……yum…what more can a kid asked for. This sounds like an absolutely wonderful dinner for a child, except if you are Peppermint Patty. You know that tomboy from the Peanuts gang who is described by Charles M. Schulz as some one who is “… forthright, doggedly loyal, with a devastating singleness of purpose, the part of us that goes through life with blinders on.”
In the Thanksgiving special aired last week, Patty invites herself, Marcie and Franklyn over to Charlie Brown’s for dinner. He finds himself in a dilemma because the family is going to Grandma’s for the evening. To solve this problem Linus suggests that Charlie Brown makes another dinner for his friends before he goes off with his folks. Since he can only make cold cereal and butter toast, he serves what he does best. Unfortunately the choice of menu is not exactly what Patty expects and when she sees the meal she is so shocked that she loudly berates Charlie Brown in front of his guests. Finally Marcy has to remind her that Charlie Brown has never invited her over, it is Patty who shows up at his house without being asked. Ultimately she comes to her senses and begs Marcie to apologize to Charlie Brown on her behalf. It is a typical Peanuts’ cute story and in the end everything works out. Grandma asks Charlie Brown to bring all his friends over to her house for a real meal and everyone is happy.
Patty undoubtedly is an interesting character ,she is a bright girl but has this habit of missing the obvious and frequently put herself and others in embarrassing situations. She is so blinded by her own expectations and perspectives that she does miss seeing things around her. Such as for years she thought that Snoopy was just “the kid with a big nose” it finally took her a long time to understand that Snoopy is a beagle. We all have our Patties in our lives, and I hate to admit but I can see her in me. Just like Patty there are times I have tunnel vision and can be quite oblivious to the happenings around me. It is a painful reality of life, but I am thankful that I have many “Marcie” in my life who will not hesitate to point out the cold hard truth, even though it hurts.
Jesus is the greatest role model for us, one good example is in Mark 5:21-34. In this passage, Jesus is on his way to Jarius’ household to heal the dying daughter. And en route He is surrounded by a great crowd of people who want to talk, touch and to look at Him. I can imagine how difficult it is for Jesus and the disciples to navigate through the crowd with all the pushing and shoveling going on. Then out of the blue this woman touches Him and then He asks the most bizarre question ” Who touched me? ” I am sure the disciples are quite stunned by this, because during the commotion they must have been touched so many times and yet He is only concerned with one incident. When I think of this passage, I am amazed at how sensitive and in tune Jesus is to what is happening around. He is always able to decipher the important things in the midst of all the pressing demands around Him.
This morning I told my co-worker about this show and that it makes a great tool for leadership training. It is all about the way we understand people whom we are leading. Sometimes we are so task-oriented and are more concerned about getting the job done and meeting the outcomes that we might neglect the people involved. We expect to have a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and when we only get toast and popcorn we get frustrated and inadvertently create stress not only for ourselves but for others who are serving. We have to learn to appreciate the fact that for some people their best maybe “toast and popcorn” and to expect them to cook like the Iron Chef can really create a lot of unnecessary let down and set back.
Like Patty we might have the best intention but we can be so motivated by our mission and our objectives that we are focused on doing things right, but forget doing the right things. People get hurt and burned along the way and we have to ask ourselves the million question–what is more important? getting things done or building up people?
One thing I have learned—to appreciate and celebrate the lovingly made popcorn, toast and jelly beans even though I might hunger for turkey and stuffing. God cares about people more than anything else.