Through the years I have gathered phrases and used them repeatedly in my daily management of life. Some I remember with great detail who coined them and in what situation. Others I have only a faint and vague recollection of their source. And others I simply don’t remember at all, but they have become permanent along with their explanations of usage.
For years I have told my daughters, my friends, my students and myself to eat the frog. Translation: whatever is the hardest thing to do—do it first. If you have a plate of food in front of you and you hate one particular thing, eat it first. If you have a to do list, do the thing that requires the most time and effort and you want to do least. If you have a situation that must be handled, but are procrastinating—eat the frog.
I never thought there would be a time when that phrase wasn’t metaphorical for me. Last week our school had a fund raiser. Most of the teachers had a jar with a photograph of them taped to the side. Goofy images. The teachers made faces in their photographs that most likely (hopefully) they would never make in the classroom. Students could drop coins and bills in the jar and the teacher who accumulated the most money over the week (had to be a minimum of $25) either got a pie in the face or must kiss a frog. I was slotted to kiss the frog.
The money would be used to help fund the seniors and their trip in the spring. At mid-week the jars only had a few bills in them. We really didn’t think (with sighs of relief) that the goals were going to be met. I left school on Thursday knowing that I was quite a few dollars from the goal. I came back on Friday morning and was informed that I had to kiss the frog and my husband had to take the pie in the face during chapel later in the morning.
Now I had agreed to this. What had I been thinking? During the morning my thoughts centered on how I was going to manage kissing a real, live frog. My husband had seen the frog. A couple of others had seen the frog. I kept imagining this frog. Cold, slick and damp. Where was this frog coming from? Someone’s creek? Pond? Aquarium? I knew the best way I could handle this was to hold the frog in my left hand and pinch its lips together with my right. Perhaps I could do this with little to no squeamish noises and grimaces and not embarrass myself. I had to kiss the frog for a full three seconds. We can do anything for three seconds, right? My husband laughed at me.
That was my plan. I was following my house rule. I wasn’t going to eat the frog, but I was going to kiss it.
Of course the order of chapel did not allow for me to go first and get this task over. No, chapel was full that day with announcements, games and devotions. And then it was time.
A wonderful colleague of mine, the teacher in charge of the fundraiser, came to the front with a very large metal pot containing the frog. The size of the pot threw me off-balance. I was expecting a very small frog, not a bull frog that had to be put in a pot with a lid. I was scrambling in my head trying to determine what I would do. The students were howling. Cheering. Ecstatic energy filled the room because Mrs. R was actually about to kiss a frog. I swallowed hard.
I looked around to find my husband. I told him if I had to kiss a frog he had to promise to kiss me afterward. If I were going to participate in this crazy fiasco and touch my mouth to a fairy tale amphibian’s cold lips then he had to watch. My mind was scattered and the longer my friend prolonged this the more nervous my insides became.
She held the lid on that pot as if it took some effort. Was the frog jumping? She was smiling. I wasn’t sure I liked her smile. Finally, I said, “Find my husband and let’s get this done.”
We have chapel in the gym and all the classroom doors open into the gym, and the door at the back slowly opened. By this time I was so confused I wasn’t sure what was happening.
My friend looked at me and said, “Here’s your frog, now give him a kiss.”
Someone walked out of the room with a painted frog mask on, a green cape around his shoulders and wearing a frog prince t-shirt. My six foot three husband was my frog.
My friend and colleague had not been able to locate a frog and scrambling for an alternative this is what she and the rest of our staff concocted.
I bent over in laughter. The students were in an uproar—they felt cheated.
I reached up and pulled my frog prince’s face toward mine and kissed his great big green lips laughing wildly the whole time.
I looked at the pot. No frog.
Instead I had gotten to kiss my frog prince. How fitting.
I was ready to do the thing I wanted to do least that day. I had checked my list, looked at my plate and I was ready to eat the frog. I had been prepared to do the hardest thing.
Instead, I got a surprise.
My whole life has been like this. I have attempted to eat my frogs, to kiss them and get it over with and there has always been some kind of wonderful, unexpected surprise waiting for me. Always.
And in that moment, in front of the whole school and my colleagues and my incredible husband with his frog face now dangling, I realized on a new level how good our Father really is.
When we trust him, when we go to him in prayer and petition and ask for his help with the hard things, the absurd things, the unexplainable things, the painful things and the crazy things he honors our asking. The Father honors our asking and comes along side of us and helps us with a plan to kiss the frog.
He honors the asking.
Go. Kiss your frog.